Even though May was officially Get Caught Reading Month, as designated by the Association of American Publishers (AAP), reading is a hobby that can be enjoyed all year round. As research has found that exposure to language at very early ages can stimulate brain growth, through the act of reading, teachers and parents are encouraged to share stories of various kinds to their children even if they may not yet understand what the words mean. Furthermore, as one develops into adolescence or adulthood, the regular, or even just occasional indulgence in a good novel, short story or magazine is an excellent way to learn new vocabulary words, improve one’s grammar and writing skills, and promote creativity and imagination. Whether it is an easy hobby that is already practiced, or it is a new experience that begins this particular month of May, people of all ages are highly encouraged to Get Caught Reading for their own good.
If you are a parent who wants to help a child get caught reading or if you want to get caught reading to your child, here are a few suggestions that may help you do so. Keep in mind that the upcoming summer months, when most kids have some time off school, are some crucial opportunities to take advantage of when trying to help children read. As challenging as it may be to get them to sit down and concentrate on a book in between various outdoor events like swimming or bike riding, this time when it may be easy for them to lose some of their skills is imperative.
*Designate an area of your house or playroom as a reading area. Perhaps you can set up a table, or if your child prefers the floor, a nice blanket in the corner. Stock the area with some books by your child’s favorite authors, some about his or her favorite characters and some that deal with his or her current hobbies or interests. Catering to your kid’s past times is a great way to entice them to want to get caught reading more often; they will be more inclined to feel optimistic about the experience if the subject matter is something they enjoy. Use this area to hang out in with your child during every reading session.
*Try to make scheduled get caught reading times, particularly during moments when more active playtimes are over. Before bed is always good, or possibly in the morning, if there is time, before the day’s activities. A routine will get them used to the idea of daily reading and if they are not completely into the whole idea, they will learn to accept it over time.
*If the day calls for it, pack a bag full of books and possibly a few lunch snacks and head to a local park, pool, or beach with your kids. They can have some outside playtime with a few reading breaks in between.
*Organize activities around subjects covered in the books you read, if possible. For example, go the library and select with your kids some books about hobbies or activities that they may not know much about yet but that you believe they might find suitable for their personality. Examples are baseball, or other sports, books on various household chores that they may have never done before (most children feel honored to help out), or others about things to do in the kitchen, such as baking a cake. Surely there will be endless possibilities for you to choose from. It may be most helpful to teach, or rather, help your children teach by reading themselves, by reading the book before and after you do some sort of activity that is related to the subject selected.
*Subscribe to one of the many literary magazine aimed specifically toward children of particular age groups. These magazines often include many types of articles and short stories to give children a broad range of learning experiences. Encouraging them to get caught reading magazines may also be very empowering as they will have access to much new knowledge that many of their peers will likely have yet to learn about. They will enjoy being able to teach the newfound material to their close friends.
*Visit the local library on regular occasions with your child. Teach them, or have the librarian show them how to use the card catalog or computers to search for certain topics and allow them to pick out their own books. The library is a great place to get caught reading because it’s a place where reading is accepted and well, cool. It’s the “in” place to be for readers! It is quite likely that your kids will see other children their age(s) and feel inspired, if not a bit healthily competitive to excel in their own reading ventures.
*Sometimes teachers, schools, or outside organizations or programs (often through the library) offer some kind of contest or prize for anyone that can read a certain number of pages in total from a wide selection of books. Usually the kids can choose which books to read. Rules vary from contest to contest, but these programs give the children a goal to work toward in their reading. It also gives you as a parent another excuse to encourage them to get caught reading at various times of the day on a regular basis.
*Get caught reading yourself! If your child is old enough and able to read quietly to his or herself, organize silent reading times when the two of you can sit down together with your respective books or magazines. This might work best if you select a magazine category or specific article to read whose topic is something you can easily introduce your child to. Find a way to simplify the subject in a way he or she can understand and talk about what you learned from what you just read. Then, have your son or daughter tell you what he or she learned as well.
*Read the newspaper together on a daily or biweekly basis, whatever is feasible for your family’s schedule. Depending on what you select to read and discuss, this activity may also help introduce your kids to current events or matters of national importance. It is also likely that what they learn from getting caught reading the paper with you, they will also hear something about in school. You can read about anything, even movie reviews or horoscopes. After all, a huge part of the Get Caught Reading Campaign is the simple promotion of the actual practice of it, in any form. However, a very successful way to get your children involved in reading the newspapers with you is to teach them about a particular matter of ongoing interest and follow it from day to day. Sports teams are good for this and so are weather conditions such as hurricanes or tropical storms that extend over days, sometimes several weeks at a time. And of course, current events that are appropriate for the children’s ages and level of learning are the ideal choice of news reading, as the activity will also teach them more about the world.
*Encourage your child to interact with the stories you read together. When the story or section of a long book is complete for the reading session, ask questions about the material to work their memory and jumpstart their creativity and/or logical thinking. For example, ask questions like: “Did you like how that story ended? How did you think it would end? How would you have liked it to end?”; Who was your favorite character? Least favorite? Why?; What would you have done if you were in that situation?; and “Why do you think the characters did what they did?”
*Television can be another integral part of a child’s development and learning experience, depending of course on what you allow them to watch. There is no harm in allowing some entertainment only TV for your kids as long as you promote other activities like reading as well. One great way to help them actually want to get caught reading is to try to find programs and/or movies that work together with the subject matter of the books or magazines you are reading, in some way, shape or form of relevance. You can possibly tie the two by renting the movie versions of books they have recently read and having comparison discussions about the similarities and differences in the two. Or, if your child is at the proper level to still benefit from it, a simple reading of the TV Guide with an allowance for their personal election of which shows to watch for the afternoon is helpful as well. Remember, for many children, particularly the much younger ones, exposure to the language in even the basic, most shallow forms is still acceptable and beneficial to their development. Do what you can.
*Cook a meal or dessert with your children’s help and get caught reading the recipe aloud with them. You can also have them get caught reading the grocery list at the store while searching for the items. While you are at it, have them get caught reading the actual aisle categories above if they can see that high and/or the price tags or labels to look for the proper items.
*Play the telephone book game. Grab your local yellow pages and ask them to find certain listings within. This will not only help their general reading skills but also their ability to alphabetize.
*While you are cleaning, or microwaving something, or doing anything that has directions for use on the back of the product, ask your child for help learning how to use it. Have them get caught reading the directions aloud and ask them to help you figure out how to follow through with them.