Do the Reading Together Challenge!

Father and son reading together at home. Both are engrossed in the story.

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about building a reading habit in our young learners. By this I mean ways to get them reading widely and often so that they develop a life-long love of reading. And as I’ve been delving deeper into the research around reading for pleasure, the evidence is compelling: According to the OECD, “Reading enjoyment has been reported as more important for children’s educational success than their family’s socio-economic status.”  

It’s not surprising that children who read daily do better on school tests. However, they also build a wider vocabulary, have greater general knowledge, and more understanding of other cultures. They even have better empathy skills.1 

But whose responsibility is it to build this love of reading? Let’s explore how teachers and parents can work together to help children develop a love of reading. 

What can parents do to encourage their children to read? 

Clearly, teachers have an important role to play, but teachers can’t do it alone. Parents have the greatest influence on a child’s life, particularly in the early, formative years.  

Parents can help their child to develop a reading habit in three simple ways: 

1. Reading together with their child as often as possible from a very young age

2. Making sure there are always books at home, either borrowed or bought

3. Being a good role model and reading and talking about books themselves

Reading Together Challenge 

One way to get parents involved and excited about reading with their child is to do the Reading Together Challenge. The challenges are aimed at children aged 6 to 9 years, who are learning to read in English. They most likely will be learning to read in their first language, too. In the coming months, we will be sharing one reading challenge on our Facebook and Instagram pages every week.  

Parents and children can have fun doing each challenge together as they read for pleasure. Parents can also download the Reading Together Stamp Card.

Each time their child completes a challenge, they can sign, stamp, or put a sticker on the card. Children can also cut out their own stamp and glue it to the card to create a collage they can be proud of. 

What kind of challenges are they?  

  • The challenges are designed to work with the Disney Kids Readers, but they should work with any storybook for young learners of English 
  • Each challenge targets a different learning focus. However, the most important thing is for parents and children to have fun and giggles as they cuddle up on the sofa to read together  
  • The challenges are designed to practice English language and literacy skills, but parents do not have to be fluent in English themselves to carry out these activities  
  • Where a challenge involves parents doing some of the reading, they can use the Disney Kids Audiobooks if they prefer not to read 

Read Together Challenges 1 to 5 

Here’s a sneak peek at the first five Reading Together Challenges!  

WK Focus Read Together Challenge Notes
1Visual Learning            Vocabulary                                  &                                              Visual Literacy Find the Picture                                                                           Challenge you child to find things in the story by looking at the illustrations. Say “Find a picture of a (tree)! Set a time limit by counting to 10 as they search. Do this several times. Visual literacy: looking for details in a scene.                                                                                Variations: How many of the same thing / Take turns finding things
2Text                                          Print awareness                        &                                                  Reading skills Where am I?                                                                                   Begin reading at the top of a page, and then stop suddenly. Say “Where am I?” Challenge your child to point at the word where you stopped reading. Do this several times. Print awareness: text direction, text-tracking skills                                                                  Reading skill: sight reading                                Variations: Use the audiobook instead of reading yourself.
3 Kinesthetic learning                Listening skills                            &                                 Movement Mime Time                                                                                Choose a page of the story with plenty of action. Read, pausing after each sentence. Challenge your child to do a mime for each sentence that you read out. Listening skill: listening for details                       Movement: Total Physical Response (TPR)          Variations: Use the audiobook instead of reading yourself
4 Text                                             Phonics A is for Apple                                                                         Challenge your child to find words in the story that begin with a specific letter of the alphabet. Say “Find a word beginning with (S)!” bonus points if they can read the word too. Do this several times. Phonics: initial letter-sound recognition, decoding words                                                                Variations: Say the sound /s/ rather than the letter name
5 Visual learning                        Creative skills Draw a Picture                                                                               Let your child draw their favourite setting, scene or character from the story. Bonus points for describing their picture to a member of the family!  Creative skill: using drawing to respond to the story                                                             Variations: Write about a favourite setting or scence or character instead

Encourage parents to get involved 

As a teacher, you can encourage your students’ parents to do this weekly challenge. Not only is it a fun way to get them into the habit of reading with their child, but it’s also a great way to strengthen the home-school connection.  

Enthusiastic parents = motivated students + happy teachers!

Learn more about Disney Kids Readers here. 

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