Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Encouraging Your Child to Read {Kindle FreeTime Unlimited}

Did you know that March is National Reading Month? The folks at Amazon are working with the National PTA, Amazon's Kindle, and the new FreeTime Unlimited program to foster a love of reading and learning in kids everywhere. I'm also going to share a few tips on how to encourage your child to read today.
Tips for Encouraging Your Child to Read, from Serenity Now blog

I've shared a little bit about my own struggles with my oldest, now nine years old. Story time was special for us, but like her mother (ahem, that would be me), she was initially very frustrated when it was time to learn to read on her own. If it didn't happen perfectly, the first time, she didn't want anything to do with it! There was an interest in the stories, but she didn't want to put the work in to read them herself. Fast forward two years, and she's now reading several grade levels ahead. They actually stopped testing her reading level because she's doing so well this year.

I don't say that to brag, but to encourage any moms or dads out there who may be worried about their child's progress. If my highly stubborn, cranky-about-reading-daughter can be transformed into a total bookworm, there is hope for you!
Tips for Encouraging Your Child to Read, from Serenity Now blog

Amazon knows all about reluctant readers, and they're making it easier on parents with their Kindle e-reader...just $79...and their new Kindle FreeTime Unlimited program, subscriptions starting at $2.99 a month!

My girls were beyond thrilled when a Kindle showed up at our door a couple of weeks ago. Here's what we love....

  • Easily look up definitions to words, building their vocabulary
  • Love the Vocabulary Builder – which stores words that kids look up and allows them to quiz themselves with flash cards – and Word Wise, which provides short and simple definitions above difficult words as they’re reading along
  • Small and compact. No big unwieldy screen to tangle with. 
  • Carry their favorite books with them in one spot--with Spring Break approaching, this makes road trips easier to pack for! No lugging a bag of books with us
  • You can download books from your local library
  • Amazon also has a wonderful free books section for Kindle. I found Tom Sawyer, The Secret Garden, and Treasure Island...downloaded them for free!
  • No distractions- there are no extra apps, movies, or games on the Kindle. Just reading!

  • Unlimited access to hundreds of hand-picked chapter books and early-readers
  • Curated for age appropriateness
  • Easy to log in and browse titles (early readers, can search by character or theme with photos)
  • Just click on the book title/cover and it's downloaded into your child's FreeTime Unlimited profile!
  • Subscriptions start at just $2.99 a month. 

Note: FreeTime Unlimited also includes access to apps and videos, but I was unable to review this portion of the service because it is only compatible with Fire tablets and Fire TV.
Tips for Encouraging Your Child to Read, from Serenity Now blog

My conclusion? If you don't need or care for the apps and videos, the regular Kindle is an excellent way to encourage your kids to grow their reading skills. And incredibly affordable! With the FreeTime Unlimited, my girls have the freedom to choose which (age appropriate) books they want to browse and read. OR, I can go in and choose books for them.

Now...for my tips on encouraging reading!
Tips for Encouraging Your Child to Read, from Serenity Now blog

I may go into more detail in another post (and some of this I've touched on before), but here are a few tips and strategies that have worked for us:
  • Start early
The earlier the better! Experts recommend reading aloud to your little one every day for 20 minutes...from birth. As a mom of three, I don't think this is always possible. But I do try to set aside time with my youngest (15 months old) to read a few well-loved baby books. I credit reading to my older two from a very young age with sparking their interest in reading.
  • Be a teacher
When your little one hits the preschool/Pre-K years, take a few minutes every day during quiet time to practice letters and sounds. You can find flashcards online, in book stores, big box retailers, etc. This is key to what comes next...recognizing those letters and sounds and putting them together. Later on, use those few minutes to do sight words on flash cards.
  • Find a tutor
This was a toughie for my oldest, since she was starting to get embarrassed about her reading skills. (not surprising, since getting her to work on sight words and simple reading was like pulling teeth) My husband and I finally put our feet down and sent her to a tutor that my mom recommended. The tutor had years of experience with reluctant readers, and had all sorts of fun games and exercises to grow Natalie's reading skills.
  • The Twenty Minute Rule
You can read more about the twenty minute rule, and why I think it's important here (it's twenty five for us). In short, setting a consistent "no TV/movies/gaming/electronics" until you've read for twenty minutes keeps your child's skills sharp. This was a great way to back up all the skills Natalie was learning in her tutoring sessions.
  • Audio Books
Audio books are a fantastic way to whet your kids' appetite for a good story! I found that my middle daughter could listen to books like The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; Henry Huggins, A Little Princess, etc. and comprehend most of the story if I just stopped and asked questions and explained every now and then. You can find more on audio book suggestions and ideas here or here.
  • Make it Fun
Find some "out of the box" ideas that you can pair with reading time. Start a neighborhood "book club" with a few friends and host with snacks, an activity, and maybe a small craft. Ask lots of questions, act out parts of the book, or share favorite scenes. Encourage your little artist to start a book journal...they can illustrate their favorite chapter, write a summary, write a letter to the author, and pen their own novel!
  • Talk to the Teacher
If your son or daughter is struggling with reading, but enjoys electronics, ask about any school sponsored online programs that they can log onto at home to practice their skills. I personally love that the Kindle offers badges for readers who complete their reading goals!

Most importantly, set a good example for your kids! If they see you reading, if you spend time together reading or listening to classic stories, they'll see a glimpse into the amazing, creative world that is waiting for them.

Getting over the initial hump of resistance can be difficult, but once your son or daughter discovers a love of knowledge, imagination, and experiences, it will be hard to quell. There are nights that I have to be stern with Natalie about shutting her book and going to bed!
Tips for Encouraging Your Child to Read, from Serenity Now blog
Tips to Encourage the Reluctant Reader in Your Home, from Serenity Now

Do you have any tips for encouraging reading in your home?

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I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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