Tip for young children: Wordless books
The first selection for young children is The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney, which is a wordless book. Although this may seem to be a strange choice, as the Cayman Reads programme is promoting the reading of books, wordless picture books may be used to develop important literacy skills such as book handling and the use of pictures as cues to tell a story.
Instead of being pushed along from page to page by the text, wordless picture books are different as they allow the readers to meander through the pages. Parents should take time to discuss the pictures, follow up on your child’s observations, build vocabulary, make connections and ask questions.
Wordless books are a way to build vocabulary through describing what is happening in the pictures with your child. Model this for your child before you expect the child to do it. For example, when looking at the title page of The Lion and the Mouse, it might sound something like this: “Look at those large animal prints. I wonder what kind of animal made them. It must be much bigger than the mouse. The mouse is quite small.”
Wordless books also allow readers to think more deeply about the characters and their actions. “What do you think the mouse is saying to the lion? I think he is saying ‘Please let me go?’ Or maybe he is saying, ‘Hi Mr. Lion’”. Demonstrate for your child that there is more than one response, but also support your child in the use of the picture cues. Encourage your child to predict what will happen next, and ponder what the characters may be thinking or why the characters acted in certain ways. “Why did the mouse run in the hole?”
At the end of the book you and your child can engage in a joint retelling of the story. This is a great time to practice prediction skills and words, such as “What happened after the owl chased the mouse?”
Tip for Teens: Encouraging Reading
Maybe the teenagers in your life once loved reading before technology captured most of their attention, or maybe they have never enjoyed reading. However, we as adults know that reading is of tremendous importance in order for teens to succeed in life. Encouraging reading in teens may feel tricky, as forcing or demanding that they read is of little benefit.
So, how can you motivate your teen to pick up a book or a newspaper and read? One way to motivate students is to make sure that you do not pressure them to read by nagging them or attempting to bribe them. Also, if they choose to read something you do not like, do not criticise their choice. If you have an issue with their choice, discuss the reasons why you have reservations, as opposed to disallowing the material. If you discover that your teenager is reading, don’t make a big deal of it. They should not be reading for you, but because they enjoy it.