How To Connect to Your Kids Over Books

I’ve always been a book nerd.

I was cuddling up in bed, listening to my mother read A Wrinkle in Time.

When our district went on strike, we nerded out on the old SSR kit we had at home.

I studied literature in college before concluding that I wanted to speak to kids about books more than adults.

I’ve been talking about books with middle schoolers for years, and now I do it with my own kids every day.

Strong readers have an ongoing conversation in their mind when they read. They ask questions, consider character motivation and make guesses about what will happen next or who did what. Connections to the text are a constant as they travel further into story.

Do you always have several read aloud going at the same time? Us, too.

Piles of books threaten to take over all the shelves.

We are listening to books, reading together and on our own.

And talking.

But sometimes talking books can be intimidating.

  • Are you asking the right questions?
  • Should you even be asking questions?
  • Is is comprehension or interpretation?
  • What is most important?

Even with years of reading instruction behind me, if I feel lost, this is what I do.

Readers Make Meaning

I start by asking myself, “What do REAL readers do?”.  My kids are already real readers, of course, like yours. But what do I want to draw out? What do I hope they can do on their own as they grow with books?

I want them to make meaning. Have a conversation with the author of the book. Or talk about it with me.

I want them to be able to make sense of the book in a way that serves them as they grow.

I want them to be able to make sense of the book in a way that serves them as they grow.

Strong readers have an ongoing conversation in their mind when they read. They ask questions, consider character motivation and make guesses about what will happen next or who did what. Connections to the text are a constant as they travel further into story.

That’s what you and I want for our kids.  But how to inspire that? I’ve borrowed a few ideas from my classroom and I’ve tweaked them to encourage conversation and connections to books at our house.

Read also: The Importance of Reading To Children

4 Simple Ways to Talk Books

Close reading is focused attention on the mechanics and meaning making in a text.

  1. Side by Side Reading and Discussion: If you are reading to your kids, you are naturally pausing to answer questions and talk about the story. Keep going with that. Get your readers following along if they are new to it so they can see adn hear the rhythm of a good reader. Get their eyes moving along the page as you read.
  2. Make a Note: When kids read, sticky notes are a fun tool to use.  Ask them to mark questions they have or places where strong, vivid words pop up.  When they make a connection, mark it.  Experienced readers do this in their reading naturally but newer readers need practice in noticing.  A deliberate practice to notice helps a reader pay attention to a book.  Think of this as prep for a book club meeting.  Encourage the kids to “note” what is worth discussing and making a record to refer to.
  3. Writing in Your Book:  This might make you cringe, but if we own a book, I jot down notes inside. Close reading is focused attention on the mechanics and meaning making in a text. But that sounds very “schooly”. To give my kids insight into the mind of a reader, I make notes about what I’m thinking as I read. I make my own conversation visible to them. It’s a low key way to encourage your kids to pay attention to story. And it gives an example of what is going on in the mind of a reader as she reads. (And if it is a borrowed book, post its can hold the comments and questions instead of writing in the book).
  4. Reader Response Journals: In our house we have different kids reading different books. How can I check in to see how each kid is making sense of their reading? A reader response journal saves my bacon. Let’s be honest. Some days you can’t sit down and have a big discussion with each kiddo. Instead, we use a journal to pass ideas back and forth in writing.  Some ideas of what to include:
    • vocabulary words to look up/define
    • setting or place/mapwork
    • character questions
    • traditional comprehension questions
    • reflections of certain passages

Read also: Teach the Way Your Child Can Learn

Raising Readers

In our homeschool, I want the kids to love reading. I want to raise readers. Readers have conversations about books. Conversations with the author. Or with friends. With their mom or dad or siblings.

Using any of these four ideas will get your kids talking, considering, making meaning. All four strategies give you simple ways to check in on individual readers. When you have many readers reading different books, that’s a win-win for everyone!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do I motivate my love reading to my child?

It is critical that youngsters regard reading as an enjoyable and pleasurable activity rather than a challenging work. What better way to explain this than to demonstrate it yourself? It is more probable that your children will be encouraged to read if they witness you reading often. This will also assist to encourage screen-free time. Talking with your kid before he talks can assist him in developing essential language skills. Most youngsters need good spoken language abilities in order to grow as readers and writers. You may discuss your everyday activities, what he sees and does, his surroundings, the sizes of items, the forms of signs, and so on in short, basic words.

Gift books to encourage reading. Put books on the wish list when friends and family ask for present ideas! For birthday and holiday gifts, we always offer books. Why? The gift of books implies that you value reading and wish to share it with others you care about. Furthermore, since great books in minority languages may be difficult to locate, books are the perfect present for multilingual children. Reading parents have reading children. Parents who keep books, magazines, and newspapers about the house and read themselves, according to Reading Is Fundamental, help reinforce the idea that books and reading are a part of everyday life.

How can I help my child learn to read fluently?

Fluency is critical for reading because proficient readers identify more words immediately and spend less time sounding them out (also called decoding). This frees up their mind to concentrate on making sense of the text they are reading. They can call on their vocabulary and previous knowledge more rapidly, which makes reading comprehension easier. Reading fluency, in fact, greatly correlates reading comprehension.

The first step in assisting your child’s accuracy is to expand their vocabulary using sight words. Sight words, such as “the,” “he,” “she,” or “run,” are the most frequently used words in a language. The more sight words your youngster understands, the more easily they will identify them in a text. Reading fluency demands a lot of work. The greatest readers aren’t born with it. They learned to read by doing it again and consistently. Reading fluency is defined as the ability to read easily. Reading easily takes work over time – until the effort is no longer necessary.

When you read to your kid, you are setting a good example. Your youngster is cognitively taking in your tone, pace, and inflections. That’s why we recommend reading aloud to your youngster for at least 20 minutes every day. Your youngster will get acquainted with how a reader’s voice aids in the comprehension of written content. Many people are unaware of how many skills may be acquired by the simple act of reading to a kid.

You are not only teaching children how to sound out words, but you are also developing critical comprehension abilities, expanding their vocabulary, and allowing them to hear what a competent reader sounds like. Above all, frequent reading encourages your kid to develop a love of reading, which is the greatest approach to prepare them for future reading success.

Read also: How To Support Student’s Self Regulation Needs?

How to help a child struggling with reading?

It is increasingly difficult to educate a youngster to read as he or she grows older. If a youngster cannot read proficiently by the end of third grade, he or she is unlikely to catch up. The consequences of falling behind and feeling like a failure may be disastrous. Helping struggling readers improve their fundamental skills of comprehension may make reading less of a hassle for them and provide the groundwork for long-term academic success.

According to recent study, reading comprehension problems may be the result of an underlying spoken language deficiency that develops from early life, before reading is ever introduced. Students with low reading comprehension frequently comprehend fewer spoken words and less of what they hear, and have poor spoken grammar. To successfully treat reading comprehension problems, educators may need to use a strategy that teaches vocabulary, thinking abilities, and understanding first in spoken language, then in reading and written language.

It is also critical to ensure that books are presented at the appropriate level. Your youngster may stumble over a few phrases, but he or she should get the gist of the narrative. This is when a librarian may come in handy. Every accomplishment should be acknowledged with a nice job or a high five. Every single one of them. Don’t use report card grades to assess your student’s growth. Celebrate his or her right reading of a single word. Meet your youngster at his or her reading level and praise his or her triumphs there.


I’m a writer, new mom and foodie. I love sharing what I know while making others feel beautiful. On this blog, I share my healthy lifestyle, simple meals, fitness tips and experiences.

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Kara Bout It