Tuesday, October 20, 2020

10 Special Reading Activities Families Can Do Together

November is National Family Literacy Month, one of the best times to celebrate the importance of developing a love of books and reading at home. 

As we get ready to celebrate within our community, I have been thinking a lot about how the love of reading and connection to wonderful books, supports early reading and writing skills, strengthens vocabulary development, and gives our littles the skills and confidence needed as they prepare for success in school. 

And one of the most important things reading together at home brings, are special bonds within families that are built through sharing stories, experiences and conversations within the pages of the amazing books being shared. 
When I was young, my parents shared their love of reading and books with my sister, brother and I constantly.  Not only did my parents read to us every day, they encouraged us to connect to the stories and books by reading to one another, playing library and school together, writing and illustrating our own stories, making cool book forts and much more. 
I kept our books and held onto all of the memories they hold from my childhood, 
and loved sharing the same books and stories with my own three children too.  

In this post, I am excited to share 10 special reading activities you can share, as a teacher and librarian, with your families, as we celebrate Family Literacy Month in November, and all year long too. 
1. One of the most important ways families can spend time with one another is by reading aloud together. This is such a special time as it encourages conversations and promotes literacy skills through a variety of books with diverse stories, characters and settings. 

You can take turns reading back and forth, and even involve other family members such as brothers, sisters, grandma, grandpa, aunts, cousins, etc.. And right now, if you can't get together in person, set up special times to read together on Zoom. 

And reading aloud together is for all ages.  I still share special books I come across with my 26-year daughter, Brianna.  It's just the best and one of our favorite things we share is the love of reading instilled in her many years ago. 

2. Carve out time in your schedule for visits to the public library to find books to read together and for the amazing programming public libraries provide children and families. 

We can also work with the public library in our community to ensure all children and families have library cards. These can then be used at home and at school to widen the variety of books and resources our young people have access to. 
3. Families can talk with their children about what they might find in the school library. By using Destiny Discover, families can log in together at home to search for books and to view Recently Added Books, Popular Titles, and others within various categories within our school library collection. 

When a book is found that you might read together, students can login and place a hold on the books. They can then pick them up from the library the next day. 
To help them remember how to login to Destiny Discover and other important places like the library website, I created The Van Meter Library & Makerspace To-Go's for our students to take home.  You can find this template and instructions here in this post
4. Within Destiny Discover, a fun activity for families to do together is to add book reviews. Students can add book reviews, as shown above, to keep track of what they've read and to recommend books to others. 

This can be a wonderful incentive for reading together at home, as students love adding the reviews within Destiny. 
5. Another super cool place for families to go together is Biblionasium, the safe, fun, social reading community for kids, their friends, educators and parents. 

Within Biblionasium, children can keep track of the books they are reading and what they would like to read on virtual book shelves, while recommending and reviewing books, participating in reading challenges, and by being part of a reading community with their classmates and friends. 
For families, Biblionasium lets you find books that are appropriate for your child's interest and ability, while checking in on their reading lists, class challenges and assignments.  
When my son, Hagan, was younger, he loved keeping track of everything he read using Biblionasium.  We even set up challenges that he completed over the summer and throughout the year using eBooks he was reading within Destiny.  It was so much fun to use together as we worked on improving his reading comprehension and knowledge around a variety of interesting topics for Hagan. 
6. Speaking of eBooks, these can be a fun reading activity for families. When it isn't possible to check out print books, we can connect them to places online to read eBooks and other eResources. 

Our eBooks are cataloged alongside our print books. They are a very important part of our Destiny Discover.  They have their own ribbon on the homepage, as shown above, which makes it very easy to find when searching for a new one to read. 
I also pull a lot of our eBooks and eResources, like online read alouds, into the choice boards I create and share with our students, teachers and families throughout the year.  For example, in Our October Choice Board found here, I included several books to listen to online like I Need My Monster, If I Ran For Presidents and Halloween.  
I will be creating monthly choice boards throughout the year.  You can find them here on the Our Monthly Choice Boards site I created. Please feel free to share these fun reading and learning activities with your families and students too. 
7.  Audio books are a great way to bring reading and books anywhere you go.  It's fun for families to listen together, especially while in the car or listening before bed together.  
Again, we keep our audiobooks cataloged and available through Destiny Discover to make it easy for everyone to search and access them anywhere. 
And one more tip around connecting your families and students to all of the different places online, make sure you organize and share them in fun and unique ways.  For example, this year I created a choice board for our library and embedded it right into the home page of our Destiny Discover.  

When they go to Destiny, the first thing everyone sees is a place to easily locate all of these resources including audio books, eBooks, databases, our Virtual Makerspace and so much more.  It definitely has a made a difference as they engage in so many different ways. 
8. It's always fun to encourage students to write and illustrate books at home with their families.  This is one of my favorite maker activities to send home with students over holiday breaks or throughout the summer months.  They can be simple paper books with writing and colored illustrations. 
If they'd rather create digital books, they can use a digital tool like Buncee.  With Buncee, digital stories and projects can be created using digital stickers, animations, backgrounds, text, images and much more.  There are dozens of templates to choose from which make it easy to find those home and family connections.  You will find Buncee here.  Students can use their accounts from school or families can sign up for an account at home. There is a free limited version available to everyone. 

Buncee contains the Immersive Reader from Microsoft, which allows all students to listen to the stories they write, in dozens of different languages too.  You can read more about this integration here.
9.  As we get ready to celebrate Family Literacy Month at Van Meter, I will be putting together a Flipgrid to share with our families to do at home, like the one above I created for World Read Aloud Day a few years ago. 

Using Flipgrid, which is FREE for everyone, you can create a place for families to share what they are reading together or even share a special reading place at home.  Then by sharing the Flipgrid with everyone, students and families can watch and comment on others video responses.  It is such a nice way to bring your community and families together around reading. 
10. Lastly, I can't share enough how important it is to make recommendations for great family read alouds. Not only do I book talk a lot of books within our library and classroom, I also share these recommendations on our library social media accounts like, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and online newsletter so families can get ideas and see what is available through our library. 
This fall, I started the Great Read Aloud's for Our Families Collection by Destiny that includes read alouds we have in our library collection.  The read aloud suggestions in the Collection include print, eBooks and even audio books.  I will continue to add to this throughout the year. 
I even put together a list to share with all of you that includes my top picks for Great Read Alouds for Families for kindergarten through 8th grade students. 

We know the power of sharing our love of reading with children and families.  For Family Literacy Month, let's all make sure we share these ideas, and more, with the families and children we work with everyday.  And as many of us are spending lots of time learning together at home right now, sharing special reading experiences is one of the most important ways we can spend that time.  

It will make a difference in the lives of our readers forever.

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