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Make reading matter

Schools across Suffolk got into the reading spirit last week during National Read Across America Day, with some extending the fun all week long.

The annual celebration is held on or near the March 2 birthday of one of the most famous children’s authors, Dr. Seuss. Schools typically celebrate with Dr. Seuss-themed parties and costumes, book fairs and all manner of promotions of reading.

Reading is an absolutely vital skill, and reading for comprehension is the next step and is equally vital. We’re always glad to see schools promoting reading with all these fun activities. In that spirit, from Read Across America, here are some tips parents can use to keep the reading fun going all year long:

  • Read together every day: You can read the morning news at breakfast, share a story after supper, or cuddle up for a book at bedtime.
  • Talk and build vocabulary: Interesting conversations build vocabulary, language skills and knowledge about the world. Talk is a child’s best source of exposure to new words and ideas.
  • Model reading: Kids want to do what the grownups do. Make sure your kids get to see you reading and hear you talk about it.
  • Point out print: Read and talk about the words you see in the world around you. There’s lots to read — signs, recipes, cereal boxes, instruction manuals, bus schedules, news, maps and menus.
  • Visit the library: Take advantage of all the books, materials, story times, programs and resources your local library has to offer.
  • Create a reading-rich home: Find books at the bookstore or yard sales. Provide a special shelf or basket for kids to keep their own books and one for library books. Make sure there are quiet, comfortable places to read.
  • Encourage your child’s reading: Praise the efforts of a soon-to-be or beginning reader. Make sure schedules of older readers include time for pleasure reading, not just assignments.
  • Keep books handy: Stash books in your bag to read aloud when you travel or have to wait at restaurants or for appointments. Or keep e-books on your phone.
  • Start reading traditions: Beyond bedtime stories, consider a special birthday book, holiday favorites, or a regular family read aloud night.
  • Let kids choose books: Offer titles that explore your child’s interests, expand horizons and offer exposure to different kinds of writing. Show them there are books where they can see themselves and books where they can see the worlds of others.
  • Make everyone comfortable: Find a spot to read together where you are both comfortable. Sometimes kids have to move around to be comfortable.
  • Be an active reader: Use expressive voices for characters, make sound effects and point things out in the text and illustrations when you read aloud.
  • Discuss what you read: Give your child enough time to absorb the story and look at the pictures as you read. Think aloud about what you are reading and looking at and encourage your child to do the same.
  • Ask questions when you read: Ask your child to guess what comes next. Ask open-ended questions that help them relate to characters or events in the book. Let your child get involved and ask questions too — interruptions are OK!
  • Encourage re-reading: Repetition helps kids learn. Re-reading favorite books and poems helps kids make meaningful connections between themselves and books.
  • Connect reading and writing: Write your own reading material, like a story about your life, a story featuring your kids, or a story kids make up.
  • Make media matter: Connect kids with appropriate technology — videos, apps or games that help them learn new words and interesting things about the world.
  • Make reading an experience: Link life experiences with books, like a trip to the zoo and books about animals, or planting a garden and reading “The Ugly Vegetables” by Grace Lin.
  • Get help: If you have concerns about your child’s language development, hearing or vision, see your child’s pediatrician as soon as possible.