The foundation of our philosophy at Read Aloud America lies in one goal: To raise lifetime readers. To help make this happen, we believe that nurturing a lifelong reader is less about instructing a child to read but about immersing them in the joyful experience of reading.
This philosophy is broken down into what we call the 3 Rings to Reading. These are three approachable steps and principles to help your family form deeper connections and raise lifetime readers.
What are the 3 Rings to Reading?
If you’re searching for ways to learn how to help your child read more, start with these three steps or “rings:”
Ring 1: Read Aloud
Reading out loud benefits can be seen at just 20 minutes per day! Start by prioritizing family reading time in your daily schedule as a fun, routine activity.
Ring 2: Role Model
Let your kids see the bookworm in you! Use your downtime to set an example. Kids copy what they see. Show them you love reading, and you can pass on the gift of reading to them, too.
Ring 3: Reduce Electronics
Wondering where to find the time for family reading? Should parents limit screen time, they can uncover more opportunities to read aloud. Cutting down on screens can create more space for the joy of reading.
Now, let’s put the 3 Rings to Reading into action. Here are tips on how to help your child read more by reading aloud together, being a role model, and reducing electronics together:
Why Reading Aloud Works
Reading out loud benefits are endless. Research shows that kids reading at least 20 minutes daily can learn nearly 2 million words in a year! It has also been shown to help significantly reduce stress levels and increase their cognitive capacity to focus on a task. It inspires imagination, strengthens language skills, and instills a love of learning from an early age.
Perhaps most of all, family reading gives you and your children an opportunity to bond and capture lifelong memories together.
How to Help Your Child Read More by Reading Aloud
Take these three steps to help you implement engaging, fun read-aloud habits.
Step #1: Be Consistent
Schedule family reading time for the same time each day, even if it’s just for 20 minutes. Incorporate reading into your daily routine so it becomes natural over time.
Step #2: Experiment
If you’re just learning how to help your child read more, experiment first to see what works. Choose a variety of books, especially ones that align with your child’s interests. Test out different genres and formats. Let them help choose a book!
Before finding your routine, see if different environments or times of day work best for your child’s interests and attention span.
Step #3: Make it Fun!
Remember: Family reading should be a fun daily activity, not a chore! Approach it this way by creating excitement and playfulness around the ritual. Create a cozy reading nook, chat about the stories together, and focus on the experience over perfection.
Why Role Modeling is Essential
Children often mirror their parents’ behaviors, for better or worse. It might be hard for them to fall in love with reading if you’re always stressed during family reading time or don’t enjoy reading much yourself.
Raise lifetime readers through your example. Choose to leave them a lasting gift by setting an example and passing down your love for reading. The reading out loud benefits are great, but they can be even greater when combined with your example.
How to Help Your Child Read by Role Modeling
Try these easy steps to set the example for your kids.
Step #1: Read Leisurely
Spend your leisure time in the evening or on the weekends behind a great book, magazine, or newspaper. Maybe you like to read while you drink your morning coffee, or wind down at night by reading in bed. Let your children see you in these moments.
Step #2: Discuss
Don’t just read books — talk about books! Let your love for reading shine. Talk about your favorite books now and your favorite books as a child. Open up conversation at the dinner table to comment on a book you’re reading now. This is a great way to help your child read more simply by showing them how much you enjoy it!
Step #3: Explore
Now, show your children that you enjoy finding new books to read, and new ways to read them! Visit the library together. Let your kids choose some books, and then take them with you while you explore your own favorite section. Have some fun by checking out your books together – each with your own library card.
You can also role model by exploring new ways to engage in reading. For example, carry a book with you, so you can pull it out when you’re sitting in a waiting room (instead of your phone!). Or, if you’re at the vet or the dentist office, pick up one of their magazines to read. This demonstrates that, even when you don’t have your own book, there is still an opportunity to pass the time by reading – and enjoy it.
Why Reducing Electronics Is a Game-Changer
We’re often asked about reducing screen time – when, why, how much. Cutting down any amount of screen time means more space for family reading moments.
We recommend eliminating or limiting screentime Monday-Thursday. That means everyone – you, your kids, even the dog! Of course, we understand that, these days, homework requires a computer or other device, so total elimination might not be possible. But the more you can limit dependence on these devices, the better.
How to Help Your Child Read by Reducing Electronics
When you reduce electronics, you simultaneously open time that can be spent relaxing with a good book. It can be a hard habit to change, but the impact is astounding.
Limiting screen time supports your child’s development by disengaging them from a passive activity, and re-engaging them in an active pastime, which supports their development on multiple levels. Too much screen time can disrupt our children’s cognitive, language, motor, and social-emotional skills. It can delay and impact essential parts of their early development, creating potential problems in the short and long term.
But when you limit screen time and replace it with family reading time, everything can change. Reading helps with focus, better sleep, empathy, imagination, and intelligence. It educates while entertains.
Plus, it contributes to positive behavior and engagement in school. During our 25 years working in schools through our Read Aloud Program, an overwhelming number of teachers reported that RAP increased their students’ attention spans. 75% of teachers reported positive changes in students’ behaviors.
Steps to Screen-Free Evenings
We get it — screens are tempting for kids and adults! To effectively learn how to help your child read more, gradually limit screen time.
Step #1: Evaluate
Take a week or so to evaluate your family’s screen time habits. Notice any routines you might have: Watching TV after school or work, playing on tablets before bed, etc.
Step #2: Replace
After you identify screen habits, replace just 20 minutes of this time with reading. Instead of making it seem like a punishment or chore, frame it as a fun, new activity and form of entertainment to enjoy together.
Step #3: Grow and Adapt – but Be Firm
After the family gets used to the changes, identify a clear timeframe in the evening where screen time will be limited – or completely eliminated. Set clear rules about screen time.
Often, kids will push back. That’s natural. But when parents ask us how to respond to this, we give them one line: “Who pays the bills?”
Step #4: Be creative
Encourage reading on the go, too! For example, help your child pack a book with them to school, sports practice, car rides — you name it!
In situations where they might turn to electronics, make reading another option. You might be surprised by the results, after you get settled into this new habit. While many of our RAP parents were skeptical about reducing electronics, 70% of these parents reported spending less time with electronic devices. 76% of parents reported spending more time reading on their own. 87% of parents reported an increase in their children’s voluntary reading time!
Now THAT’S a game-changer!
Download Our Free 3 Rings to Reading Poster!
Need more tips to learn how to help your child read more? Ready to enjoy all the reading out loud benefits?
Download Read Aloud America’s free posters, including the 3 Rings to Reading!