By Emmanuelle Betham

Reading with your child is enjoyable for you and your child, a special time spent together maybe cuddling on the sofa, when you both have each other’s full attention, shared only with the subject of what you are reading about. Don’t be fooled to think otherwise, if you do not see the joy in it, you have something to unlearn before you can begin the experience of reading with your child.

Don’t make it feel like a test or a school exercise, read for fun. You don’t want your child to feel they can fail.

It does not really matter what reading level you or your child picks, the subject is much more important. All you need is for your child to be interested in the content. Most children are interested in most things they can understand, especially if it means having your undivided attention.

Don’t just read to decipher words, read for meaning. Make comments as you read (like: that’s nice, or not nice) or voice your emotions (with interjections such as: oops, aah, or yeah!). And encourage your child to do the same thing.

Read actively, not passively. Help develop critical thinking, by saying things like: Why do you think [the character] did/said that? What would you do in that situation? Awaken your child’s imagination. Before you turn the page, and/or at the end of the book, ask: what do you think will happen next? Say what you think too.

Take turns reading. This will encourage your child. Read one sentence or one page each, or your child can read the first sentence and you the rest of each paragraph, depending on the difficulty of the text.

Anytime your child hesitates on a word, whisper the word to them. And, my rule is if a child has hesitated 5 times on a page, I read the rest of the page, slowly enough so that s/he can follow.I have only had great times reading with children in that way. Try it, and please let me know how it goes. I love to hear from my readers ([email protected]).