Christmas: Books and Developing Literacy

One of the best things you can do for your kids to develop literacy is for them to be exposed to books. On your shelves, around your home, in their hands… Even books that are too advanced for them will benefit them just from the exposure. It’s one reason why we have a lot of books around my house.  Holidays are a particularly significant time to change out your books, and Christmas presents the perfect opportunity.  I hope you will check out Janet‘s list of Advent Christmas books. She is a very talented primary school teacher with a specialty in literacy and it’s a list you don’t want to miss.

I also wanted to give you a few basic tools you can use while reading these wonderful holiday books that will help your kids in their literacy journey.

Ask them to do a couple of things and I promise you  that you are giving them a gift in their literacy journey.

–  Before you begin reading, or once you are finished, take a look specifically at the end papers. These are the typically colorful pages glued to the front cover and the first or last page of the book. Illustrators select the end papers very intentionally. Ask your kids, “Why do you think the illustrator chose this particular paper to start (or finish) the book?“

Sometimes these pages can really help kids summarize the story, predict what might happen in the story, or just remember key elements of the story.

–  “Can you read these pictures?”

Have them use the pictures (or cover images) before you even read the story to tell you what they think it might be about, or to retell the story once you are done.

– As you get a page or two into the story ask them “What do you think will happen next?“

The tool of prediction is particularly helpful for beginning readers.  Not to mention a lot of fun for both you and them.

– Have your child fill in the blank. This is particularly useful if the story rhymes or if it is a book you have read many times. While you are reading leave out a word, and have your child fill in the blank. If it’s a really familiar story misread a word and see if your kiddo catches it.

The simple additions to your reading time can make a world of difference. I hope you’ll give them a try.

Both my husband and I received Christmas books each year growing up. We have a very large collection that you can see in that oversized basket next to our Christmas tree. Every year as our kids get older they get more and more curious about these stories. We also have started them on a collection that we add to each year. I do a mixture of fun and magical holiday books along with faith-based stories. This year they are receiving  this really fun one about jingle bells  due in large part to their growing love of music, but also because it’s super interactive.  I also selected a beautiful pop-up one for its fascinating interactive elements.

There’s no way we would ever read all of our books in the season simply because we have such a large collection. But  that does not stop us from trying. I encourage you to expose your children to a variety of stories, reread their favorites, and make up books a part of both your holiday season and your life. Christmas is a great time to ask for and receive books,  even take your kids on a trip to the library and have them pick out books that they like before adding specific titles to their wish list.  So for example this year we’re adding “how to” books, some about drawing and other science-based topics to our Christmas list. A trip to the library helped me think about that because I often forget how drawn to nonfiction young readers are.

When I was growing up all the gifts from Santa Claus under the tree were the ones that were left unwrapped. There was always a book there as well! I think Santa Claus also really values literacy.

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