Literacy: Ways to Teach Children How to Read


Now looking back on my childhood, I realize I was fortunate that our house was filled with many types of books. My favorite time in school was the designated half-hour of reading in our Homeroom Class. Some students hated this time meant for reading, but it was the period I most looked forward to throughout the day.


I don’t think it is an accident that coming from a family of readers, I in turn, absolutely love to read. I enjoy Young Adult (YA) Books, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and even Middle Grade (MG) Books! My husband does think I am (a bit) silly for reading MG and YA Books, but the good ones have interesting characters and storylines such as The Ember Series by Jeanne DuPrau and The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins.

Research has found that the most important aspect of reading is how the child feels about reading. This means that positive reinforcement from parents and educators does help. For a child to see that their parents enjoy reading is one of the best ways to encourage them to read. Research has also found that forcing a child to read does not yield positive results. Instead of forcing the issue, it might work to have a reading time that the whole family enjoys together (Source:

How To Increase a Child's Literacy Skills

Here are some suggestions that can help your child build the necessary literacy skills.

Model Reading and Writing

My parents were always reading and I just thought that all families enjoyed reading growing up. As we know, children learn best by what we model. You can ask your middle-grade or teenager to write out to-do lists, shopping lists, letters, and invitations. Another great idea is to have them find a pen pal from another state or even another country. Also, read an MG or YA book together and discuss the characters, storyline, and what you hope will happen next if it is part of a series such as The Hunger Games. This might be fun to do together as it is coming out as a movie this March.

Participate in Everyday Activities

This could include discussing newspaper articles you read together, journals, or magazines. Another idea is to have them compare prices of items they want at different department stores or sporting equipment to find the best deal. Playing language and spelling games together like Scrabble, Boggle, or Trivial Pursuit can help improve literacy skills by looking up the meaning of certain words together.

Turn Family Vacations and Trips Into Learning Opportunities

My daughter loves to go the local museum, planetariums, and zoo. This provides a wonderful opportunity for me to explain how things work and about the animals. Maybe put together a scrapbook of a family vacation together and have them write out funny captions above the pictures.

These are all simple ideas to help to encourage your child to enjoy reading and writing. The less it feels like a chore and more a way of life, the more likely they will grow up with a positive association with reading.

What books are you and your family reading? How can you encourage your kids to read more?


  1. How To Encourage Students To Read (
  2. Peel District School Board.  Help your teen build literacy skills (

Picture courtesy of Flickr.

Melissa Northway, M.S. Human Nutrition, is a mom, writer and her storybook app Penelope the Purple Pirate has been chosen as a Top 10 Must-Have eBook by lilsugar of and a Top 10 Educational iPad App by Digital Storytime.  She does consulting work for companies interested in marketing their apps or eBooks. She can be reached at: [email protected] and or @melissanorthway. See my review of The Hunger Games coming next week.

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