Supporting reading at home

Creating engaged, confident lifelong readers doesn’t just happen in isolation. It takes a school-wide reading culture with strong home-school partnerships to help foster literacy and reading.

The fire of literacy is created by the emotional sparks between a child, a book and the person reading….. it’s the relationship winding between all three, bringing them together in easy harmony.
— Mem Fox, Australian children's writer and educationalist specialising in literacy

Dad and girl reading together Parents and whānau are important in supporting reading for pleasure. All rights reserved.

Let parents know the importance of reading together

There are many ways for parents and community to get involved in nurturing strong literacy connections. They all share a simple, powerful strategy — read together with children.

Research continues to highlight how powerful reading for pleasure and reading aloud with children is. Parents /whānau who read with their child in a safe and relaxed environment are inspiring and motivating their child to read and continue reading for pleasure. For some parents and whānau, reading every day may be a new or daunting idea, too hard to manage alongside the demands and time constraints of work and the competing attraction of digital technologies.

Here are a few ways you can support families and approach your home-school connections.

Partner with parents and share resources

Support parents by letting them know their importance in reading with children.

Reading at home has ideas and resources you can share, including downloadable brochures on supporting children to become readers.

Be inventive with school and library reading events

Host book clubs and reading related events for students and parents. Book clubs are a great way to foster connections to books and reading. Try ‘Breakfast and books’ or an evening pyjama reading event as a way to link in with busy parents.

Encourage and promote reading aloud in the library and classrooms

Using inspiring, regular read aloud time allows teachers/librarians to model that reading is important and fun.

Reading aloud has strategies on how to read aloud effectively to students of all ages.

Open up your school library to the whole community

Schools that give communities school library access have found it benefits home-school relationships and strengthens reading practices.

  • How do you encourage family membership of your school library?
  • Are there ways you can open up your space for parents and community members to use?

First steps might include:

  • ensuring the library is open and inviting
  • inviting parents into the library and helping them choose books with their children
  • offering the library space for parents/whānau to meet and socialise or stay and read with preschoolers
  • providing basic tea/coffee/refreshment facilities for parents
  • encouraging parents to borrow books for reading at home and/or with preschoolers.

Family, whānau and community connections includes ideas and resources about how the school and library can support home-school connections and reading.

Libraries supporting readers has strategies for creating reader-friendly environments and policies that ensure students have access to reading material, services and support.

Enrol for our raising readers online course

To learn more about strengthening home-school reading initiatives, register for our online course Raising readers: School and home connections.

Aimed at primary and intermediate school teachers and librarians, the course looks at supporting reading for pleasure at home, and how the school library is part of these reading conversations.

There's plenty of flexibility when you come online to participate each week, and you’ll have the chance to learn from and with participants from all over New Zealand.

Read about the experience of one of last year’s attendee’s, Michelle Simms, who wrote about it in her Good Keen Librarian blog.

The course runs from Monday 14 August until 15 September. Registrations close on Friday 4 August.

Register now for the raising readers online course

Register for a reading engagement loan

It's important that students have access to plenty of quality reading material and resources to inspire, them to read for pleasure. A reading engagement loan can supplement your school library and classroom library resources with high-quality fiction and non-fiction.

Requests for the reading engagement loan open Monday 14 August. Start planning now by thinking about how:

  • you could open the loan up for your parents/whānau to access to promote home-school reading connections and support their efforts at home
  • the loan could support and reach a particular student group, e.g. reluctant readers, lower ability readers or tween readers
  • the loan could fill gaps in your school collection
  • your reading engagement allocation could be used across the school — in classrooms or within your collection.

These ideas can form focus areas for your reading engagement loan request. A popular focus area is a 'reading for pleasure' loan, which allows students to experience a wide range of reading resources

Our lending service pages have more information, including how to plan your reading engagement loan.

By Emma Smoldon

Emma is a Facilitator in the National Capability Services team with Services to Schools.

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Emma Ma July 7th at 9:55PM

hi Emma, I would like to know how can I support my 4 years old girl’s reading skills before she goes to school? I don’t know where I start with and what to do? Are there any organisation, programmer or person I can get support with? Thank you. Looking forwards to hearing from you.

Emma Smoldon July 25th at 4:03PM

Thanks for your question Emma Ma.
There are many ways to support a pre-schooler with becoming a reader. Reading aloud to your child and continuing to read together is the best way to start to support your child’s emergent reading and literacy. Reading aloud is said to be ‘the single most important activity’ to promote later independent reading success.

Reading together is also about exploring books for enjoyment, for the warmth, connection and aroha that comes with sharing the experience, ideas, pictures and words. If you can relax, have fun and enjoy reading you will be modelling and inspiring a love of reading.
There are lots of ways to make shared reading both meaningful and fun:
• Allow space for conversation to develop before, during and after the story, and allow for your child to move through the story at their own pace.
• Be prepared to re-read the same story over and over again
• Pause to let your child really take time to see the illustrations and respond to their talk about aspects of the book.
• Take a quick walk (turning the pages and quickly revisiting the story) through the book after you read.
• Show your child how the book works – the front cover, the writer and illustrator’s names, how to turn the pages, talk about how we read from left to right and use your finger to follow the words and pictures.
• Use different voices for characters, and vary the pace, tone and volume of your voice to bring the book to life. Your child will love to hear the sound of your voice.
• Emphasise sound patterns or phrases that are memorable or repeated. Encourage your child to join in or complete the ending or rhyme pattern.
• Make connections between any aspects of the book and your child’s life and experiences. “This is the same as…”

Our Reading at home pages give lots more suggestions for how to establish, enjoy and keep reading with your child
Talking, singing together, saying nursery rhymes and making time for play are also really great ways to support language and literacy learning for your child. Vicki Stephens wrote a Create Readers blog earlier this year 'Feel the rhythm: Developing language through rhythm and rhyme' which talks in some detail about early learning and language for babies and pre-schoolers. It also has many ‘Find out more’ links that will take you to further organisations and partners to help you. For example, visiting your public library is one way to access help as they may hold read aloud sessions for pre-schoolers at your local library, as well as lending picture books for you to read.

I hope that helps. I am sure you are doing a great job already.