This is great, thank you! I recently relocated to San Diego from NY and learned about you from a local moms group on Instagram. Love your posts and your energy!
Question about setting up independent reading: should we make it at the same time each day? It has been difficult motivating our 4th grader to read and I plan to implement these tips soon. I also printed the fall pumpkins reading log. Thank you!
Wondering how to make independent reading happen in your family? Yes, even young children can do independent reading and ENJOY it. Here's how!
Independent reading is a total joy at any age. There's something truly magical about getting lost in a book you love. It's relaxing. It's peaceful. And yes, even young kids can do it. Reading time without adult direction is really important for helping our students (or our own kids) develop as readers with a passion for literature. It allows them to find books they love (Lydia's current OBSESSED with Junie B Jones books and reads them everyday during her independent reading time), it helps their comprehension, and it reminds them that reading is more than an academic task. We read for so many reasons as adults: to learn, to enjoy, to destress, to be entertained. Kids need that reminder that it's not just a “school thing” or a “because my mom made me” thing.
Independent Reading: How to Make it Happen
Independent reading is amazing once you set it up. And I promise, it's actually a LOT easier than you're expecting. I got a lot of questions about how to GUARANTEE your child is actually reading. Should you monitor them? Ask questions at the end? Nope and nope. This is about enjoyment. Ideally, you can read while they read. Or listen to an audio book. Whatever YOU enjoy. I promise with the right materials, location and timing, you won't need to monitor this.
The Correct Materials:
Have books that work for independent reading time is REALLY important. Too hard? They'll struggle. Too east? They'll lose interest quickly. The key here? Books they LIKE that they can actually read on their own.
Books at the Correct Level: The first step is to be sure that you have books available at your child's independent reading level (aka books they can read and understand ON THEIR OWN). You can ask your child's teacher if they have done a specific assessment in class. Some use guided reading levels so you'll get a letter as a level, some use lexile levels so you'll get a number, and some use DRA which uses letters and numbers (you can see a chart with them HERE). Reading Eggs also gives you your child's reading level in the parent dashboard once they've started the program. Once you have this, you can easily find books AT THAT LEVEL. How? Either just google books at ____ level and a list will pop up, or you can specifically search for books that your child is interested in (for example, the Junie B Jones books that Lydia reads are at a level M).
High Interest Books: The second part of selecting books? They need to be books your child is ACTUALLY interested in. Do they love dinosaurs? Get informational books about dinosaurs. Do they love princesses? Princess books are great. Even toddlers and preschoolers can do independent reading time (interactive books are great for younger kids).
Setting Up a Book Basket: Sounds simple, but keep the books for independent reading in a basket or bin. That way, you can carry it to the day's reading location easily and know that the best books are available.
One of my daughter's favorite parts of independent reading? She picks the location (sitting in a stadium chair in our front yard is almost always her choice). Kids can pick a comfortable and relaxing spot. The point is for them to self direct and to pick a place they ENJOY reading. We've even built reading forts that my daughter goes into on her own.
How Long Should It Last?
The length of time for independent reading should depend on your child's age and experience. At first? It will be 5-10 minutes. And that's FINE. With younger kids (preschool and kindergarten) start with five minutes and set a timer. Let them know that's their reading time. As they get more comfortable, stretch the time.
Do you do independent reading time in your household or classroom?
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