Celebrate National Reading Month with your family!

Grab a book, a magazine, or your e-reader! It’s time to celebrate. Tell your program participants, your coworkers,  your students, or your friends. March is National Reading Month! An entire month to focus on the importance of reading in our lives. Reading helps us to stay in touch, to be informed, and to escape into great stories. Reading together is a positive experience for children and adults. Families create happy memories around books and stories. Parents and caregivers demonstrate to their children that they value reading. Children have opportunities to talk and laugh with their parents. Families connect and bond.

According to Scholastic’s most recent Kids and Family Reading Report, most parents agreed that it was important to read to their young children. However, only 58% of parents actually read to their preschool-aged children 5 to 7 days each week. Sadly, as children grow older, families read together even less. Only 21% of surveyed parents regularly read with their nine- to eleven-year-olds.  

As practitioners, we have an opportunity to educate parents and caregivers in order to encourage families to read together at home. Here are a few ideas for celebrating National Reading Month in your school or program while focusing on the importance of reading together:

  • Model a family book club during Parent Time. Choose a short chapter book that would be fun for the whole family, such as the classic “Mr. Popper’s Penguins” by Richard Atwater or “The Tale of Despareaux” by Kate DiCamillo.  The participants in your program can take turns reading a few paragraphs aloud just as families would do at home. Individuals who are not comfortable reading aloud can listen to the story. Take time to ask questions and discuss information about children’s reading development. Read throughout the month until your group finishes the whole book. If funds are available, provide each family a copy of the same book so that they can read it together for at-home PACT Time®. 
  •  Use books in your Parent Time lessons on children’s social-emotional learning. A story, like “Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse” by Kevin Henkes, can be a springboard for discussions around managing anger and apologizing. An excerpt from a novel, such as “Rules” by Cynthia Lord, can provide an opportunity to talk about disabilities and social norms. Discuss as a group how parents might respond to the situations presented and make connections to participants’ own lives.
  • Play an audiobook during your arrival time. Allow participants to summarize and discuss. This practice gives purpose to those opening minutes and models for parents and caregivers another way to incorporate reading into their families routines. Classic stories, like “Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White or “Matilda” by Roald Dahl, are perfect for all ages.
  • In a Parent Time lesson focused on healthy eating, try a new recipe! Read the recipe together in advance and make a grocery list. Then work together to prepare the dish during class.  Recipes provide not only an authentic reason to read, but practice in life skills as well as math concepts. Follow-up by having families do an activity on healthy eating during PACT Time® and then finish up by trying the food you made together.
  •  Kids are always asking curious questions! Support families in reading to find answers by hosting a family event centered around Wonderopolis.org®. For more information, check out NCFL’s free Family Learning Event Guide which includes suggestions for planning events as well as a detailed plan for a Wonderopolis® event.
  • Take a field trip to visit your local library! Yes, libraries do story times and have books for check out, but 21st century libraries offer so much more. You might find classes in yoga or teen programs focused on coding. You can access digital resources, such as magazines, cookbooks, or audio books, from your own device at no charge.

During National Reading Month, use these ideas to support your families in building routines and creating traditions around reading. Help your families see that reading is not just a subject that they study in school, but an essential part of life. An activity that creates bonds, helps us to understand the world, and enriches our lives.

How is your school or program celebrating National Reading Month? Add your ideas in the comments below. Everyone who comments will receive a free PDF copy of NCFL’s handout for parents and caregivers on Making Reading Interactive.