In 1999, UNICEF stated that almost 1 billion people will enter the new millennium being unable to read a book or write their name. Surprisingly, women made up two-thirds of that figure. In this day and age where education is not only free but compulsory too, there is no good reason for the illiteracy figures to be this high. 60% of prison inmates are illiterate, and the main reason why children fail to become fully literate is because their parents are either illiterate or show no interesting in their child’s literacy development (Begin to Read). This booklet, and the activities included are designed to help improve this scenario.
Reading Comprehension Activities
For many, they are able to read the words but not fully understand their meaning. A great way of enabling your child to fully engage with a text is to assess their comprehension. The obvious point is that, as it’s at home, you don’t want them to feel as though they are being tested. For this reason, try to keep it casual and light. Your child doesn’t need to know that they’re learning for them to actually learn something. For the majority of children, reading does not possess them same ‘fun factor’ as the television or video games, and for this reason it is important to try and make reading seem fun.
Before beginning a new book, ask your child to predict what they think the book might be about by looking at the front cover. After reading some of the book with your child, encourage him to talk about the book with you. Ask him which character is his favourite and why; what he thinks will happen next and why; what he disliked about the book so far and why. Basically, try to engage your child in discussion about the book. Voice your opinions and encourage him to voice his too. If your child is able to discuss the book then he is able to comprehend the meaning of the words as well as being able to read them, which is great. However, if it is clear that your child is struggling to discuss the book, he may be reading something that is too advanced for him: try a simpler book. It is best to start off with something simpler to build his confidence and enjoyment of reading.
This activity is designed to be adapted for all ages and abilities in children. Provide your child with arts and crafts resources (cardboard, paper, pens, pencils etc.) and ask him to create his interpretation of a character in their book. This involves your child engaging with the text, thinking about what they have read, interpreting the text, and applying his knowledge to an external project. This kind of activity also encourages your child to adapt his creative side and will be fun for you to join in with too, although it is imperative that the child creates his ideas on his own. If you have an older child, ask him to write a short story or a poem about his favourite character: encourage them to use the character’s original characteristics and personality within his own story.
Resources and Links
If you buy a daily newspaper, encourage your child to try and read some of it. If not, encourage him to read some news online and discuss it together.
http://www.skillsworkshop.org/literacy - Website with various resources and activities for literacy and functional skills.
http://www.primaryresources.co.uk/english/english.htm - Website with resources and activity ideas for middle school-aged children.
Always be enthusiastic about reading; encourage dinner-time discussion about what you and your family are reading. If your child sees you being enthusiastic, he is far more likely to be the same.
Google: ‘Literacy activities’ for more ideas.
Encourage casual conversation about books, newspapers, reading of any kind when at all possible: if your child grows up with reading being ‘the norm’ then he will never know any differently and will continue on his enjoyment for reading into adulthood. Always try to be as enthusiastic as possible (TES Connect): if your child voluntarily tries to talk to you about a book, a character or, indeed, anything he’s read be sure to respond immediately and nurture his thoughts. There is a wealth of resources, ideas and activities on the internet as well as the two activities provided in this leaflet.
Good luck and happy reading!
1. Wilce, H. (2006). Experiments in Enthusiasm. Retrieved from http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=2177723
2. Begin to Read. (1996-2010). Literacy Statistics. Retrieved from http://www.begintoread.com/research/literacystatistics.html