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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.
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?