HOLIDAY FUN: These Christmas holidays could be a good time to start with helping your grandchild develop strong life-long reading skills.
HOLIDAY FUN: These Christmas holidays could be a good time to start with helping your grandchild develop strong life-long reading skills. katiko-dp

Tips to get your grandkids reading this Christmas

CAN you imagine anything more pleasurable than being part of your grandchild's development of competent reading skills which will set them up for life?

These Christmas holidays could be a great time to start, making time each day for you and them to read together.

Whether you are a strong reader or not, Edith Cowan University's senior lecturer in education Dr Margaret Merga says you can make a powerful difference to your grandchild's life by encouraging them to make reading daily a part of their everyday life.

Grandparents may also find themselves learning better reading skills along the way which is not such a bad thing as all the generations are going online to get informed and educated, and to socialise.

"It's never been as important as it is now," Dr Merga said. "If you think about the amount of reading that is involved in our daily lives in terms of understanding forms that we read on the internet and internet banking; so many of the things we used to engage in face-to-face have moved into online reading materials. Where we might have got away with having no literacy when meeting the functional needs of day to day lives, we just can't do that anymore."

Dr Merga says children gain valuable vocabulary skills and confidence from reading, if they do it regularly. "We know that when we are not engaging in regular reading, our literacy skills don't stay the same; they start to move backwards," Dr Merga said. And if we can foster in them a love for reading, children will find the activity pleasurable.

How to do it

  • Share with them books that were your favourites, and tell them why you liked those books.
  • Ask them what sorts of books they like to read. If they find it hard to choose, give them guidance and recommendations about books they might like.
  • Share the books together. "We can read them independently, but we can also read aloud to each other," Dr Merga said.
  • It's vital to encourage reading aloud to help your grandchildren develop their vocabulary skills.
  • If you are choosing books for them, aim for something a little bit harder than they would choose, as a way to expose them to more complex vocabulary and word structures. "It can also help them to get into ideas, words and concepts that are too advanced for them to independently access but which can be incredibly enjoyable for both you and the grandchildren", Dr Merga added.

After the holidays

Dr Merga says don't let the grandchildren stop regular reading at the end of the holidays; keep encouraging them to read every day and to enjoy doing it.

Your reading skills

  • Not everyone is going to feel confident with reading out loud with their grandchildren, so Dr Merga suggests just having a go will be appreciated by the kids.
  • Try sharing with the grandchildren by listening and reading along to an audiobook together which can help both the child's and grandparent's literacy skills.
  • Get your grandchildren to read to you which gives them a special role and shows them the purpose of reading.