A recent study reported by the BBC found that teenagers whose parents had been actively involved in helping them with their reading at the beginning of their school careers could read at a level of about six months ahead of their peers by the time they are 15. Imagine how much more of an advantage can be developed when parents help kids with reading even before they start school.
Helping children with reading doesn’t have to consist entirely of teaching them to read. An enormous benefit can be had simply by reading with your children and then talking about what you have read. This helps them gain familiarity with the usage of new words, experience thinking about a story, and the ability to verbalize ideas about why characters do what they do. All of this is invaluable to them as they advance in their education. The study reported by the BBC stated that “parents did not have to be particularly well-educated themselves for this impact to be achieved. What was important was that parents read books regularly with their children – such as several times a week – and that they talked about what they were reading together.”
When it comes to young children, this is true of all books, including traditional and electronic/interactive books. Some people have expressed concern about interactive books detracting from the reading experience, but interactive books can be a great, convenient, portable way to help kids practice their reading skills, improve their vocabularies, and make a connection with a story on a different level. And like all books, the biggest benefit for young children happens when a parent is there to share the story with their child and talk about it with them before, during, and after the reading. That’s what helps most of all.
If you are interested in finding interactive books that you can read and discuss with yourchildren, I’m happy to announce that two of my books, The Tortoise and the Hairpiece (in English and Spanish) and The Higgledy-Piggledy Pigeon are available as interactive books for the iPad and iPhone through a partnership with InteractBooks. As aspecial promotion this week, they are available for half-price ($1.99) starting the evening of Tuesday, December 20. All of the books include questions for discussion at the end that you can use as a starting point for talking about the stories. To access the books, download the free InteractBooks reader from the iTunes App Store and purchase the books from within the app using your Apple ID. You can also watch a video preview of The Tortoise and the Hairpiece.