Reading at home

Father and daughter reading at home.

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Find out how you can support and encourage your children and teenagers to read for pleasure. This is one of the most powerful ways of improving their literacy, learning, and wellbeing.

Help your child become a reader

As a reading role model, you have a big influence on your child's or teenager's interest in reading outside of school. One of the best ways you can help is through fostering a love of reading — beginning at birth.

And that role doesn’t stop when children start school. Research shows that your ongoing involvement in your child's reading and learning is more important than anything else in helping them to fulfil their potential. 

  • Children familiar with books and stories before they start school are better prepared to cope with formal literacy teaching.
  • Reading together is fun and helps build relationships.
  • Books contain new words that will help build your child's language and understanding.
  • When students read for pleasure they are likely to read more frequently and gain all the benefits of enhancing their literacy skills, learning outcomes, empathy, social skills and wellbeing.

Create a reading culture at home

The same elements described in a school's reading culture apply at home — children and young adults read more when they:

  • are read to — even when they can read themselves
  • see adults around them reading, demonstrating reading as part of their everyday lives
  • have access to books — a plentiful and varied selection of resources.

Parents and whānau play a critical role in supporting their children’s learning right from the start. Evidence shows that learning outcomes are enhanced when parental involvement in school is sustained and focused on learning activities.
— Ka Hikitia, p.28

Creating a school-wide reading culture

Help your child become a reader brochure available in English, Māori, Cook Island Māori, Samoan, Tongan, Niuean and Tokelauan.

  • Communicate with school staff

    To help support your child with reading, liaise with your child's teacher and school library staff. 

    • Discuss with the classroom teacher your child’s level of competence in reading.
    • Share information about your child’s cultural identity, home languages, personal interests, and learning abilities. Also the types of literacy experiences and activities that take place in your home and community and where you get books, magazines, multimedia and digital resources. This information will help teachers and the school library provide inclusive literacy programmes and appropriate forms of reading material.
    • Share success stories about your child's reading mileage, enjoyment, and involvement in any community activities, such as public library holiday programmes and literacy events.
    • Find out the benefits of reading for pleasure and ways you can support your child. This can range from reading with your children at home and by engaging in reading, writing and oral language activities in the classroom and library.
    • Ask teachers and library staff for advice and support with any queries, such as tips for reading aloud, other reading strategies and reading recommendations.

    Reading books remains one of the best ways to engage with the world, become a better person and understand life’s questions, big and small.
    Schwalbe, 2016

    Reading for pleasure — a door to success

  • Communicate with school staff

    To help support your child with reading, liaise with your child's teacher and school library staff. 

    • Discuss with the classroom teacher your child’s level of competence in reading.
    • Share information about your child’s cultural identity, home languages, personal interests, and learning abilities. Also the types of literacy experiences and activities that take place in your home and community and where you get books, magazines, multimedia and digital resources. This information will help teachers and the school library provide inclusive literacy programmes and appropriate forms of reading material.
    • Share success stories about your child's reading mileage, enjoyment, and involvement in any community activities, such as public library holiday programmes and literacy events.
    • Find out the benefits of reading for pleasure and ways you can support your child. This can range from reading with your children at home and by engaging in reading, writing and oral language activities in the classroom and library.
    • Ask teachers and library staff for advice and support with any queries, such as tips for reading aloud, other reading strategies and reading recommendations.

    Reading books remains one of the best ways to engage with the world, become a better person and understand life’s questions, big and small.
    Schwalbe, 2016

    Reading for pleasure — a door to success

  • Have things to read at home

    Children and teens read more when they are surrounded by books and other high-interest reading material.

    The most obvious step [to creating readers] is to provide access to books.
    — Krashen (2004).

    Borrowing books and other resources

    There are lots of options for borrowing books instead of buying them.

    • Discuss with your child's school /school library your options for borrowing resources, e.g. read-aloud chapter books for bedtime reading
    • Ask the librarian for advice on culturally inclusive reading material — print, multimedia and digital, e.g. te reo Māori, Pasifika and ESOL languages.
    • Increase your knowledge of children's literature, ask for reading recommendations about authors, titles, genres and popular non-fiction.
    • Use your public library — explore the range of resources e.g. books, large print books, eAudiobooks, eBooks, eMagazines, eNewspapers, musical CDs, and DVDs of movies (including ones with captioned titles if your child has hearing disabilities).
    • Also look at the Ministry of Education's list of groups that provide library resources and digital collections for students with special education learning needs.

    Groups that can support you — information from the Ministry of Education.

    Build your home library

    Ways you can build your home library are to:

    • surround your home with books in a range of genre, magazines, newspapers and catalogues
    • make story-boxes or bags that contain a story book and items that correspond to items in the story
    • swap books, comics and magazines with other families
    • visit specialist children's booksellers, or bookshops with knowledgeable staff to discover the best resources available 
    • give gift books or book tokens for birthdays and Christmas
    • buy second-hand reading material from shops or online
    • get games and puzzles that require your child to read and follow instructions
    • use everyday materials such as cookbooks, cereal boxes, websites, television adverts, telephone directories, and environmental print such as road signs, billboards and logos.

    Explore online reading material

    Check out suitable digital resources at your school library and on public library websites. Some examples schools use include:

    International Children’s Digital Library — digitised copies of print books from around the world in more than 50 languages, including a small selection in Te reo Māori and Pasifika languages.

    Kiwi Kids News — latest news items and current events about NZ and overseas selected for students and teachers.

    My home library — author Anne Fine shares tips and free bookplates, created by notable children's book illustrators, which you can use to create a sense of ownership in new or secondhand books.

    Project Gutenberg — range of digitised print books from around the world, including the Children’s Bookshelf and Audio Books sections.

    Story boxes: A hands-on literacy experience — Norma Drissel shares ideas for story boxes, includes picture book suggestions and objects to use.

    Unite for Literacy — eBooks/audiobooks (fiction and non-fiction) in English and a variety of other languages for emerging readers.

  • Have things to read at home

    Children and teens read more when they are surrounded by books and other high-interest reading material.

    The most obvious step [to creating readers] is to provide access to books.
    — Krashen (2004).

    Borrowing books and other resources

    There are lots of options for borrowing books instead of buying them.

    • Discuss with your child's school /school library your options for borrowing resources, e.g. read-aloud chapter books for bedtime reading
    • Ask the librarian for advice on culturally inclusive reading material — print, multimedia and digital, e.g. te reo Māori, Pasifika and ESOL languages.
    • Increase your knowledge of children's literature, ask for reading recommendations about authors, titles, genres and popular non-fiction.
    • Use your public library — explore the range of resources e.g. books, large print books, eAudiobooks, eBooks, eMagazines, eNewspapers, musical CDs, and DVDs of movies (including ones with captioned titles if your child has hearing disabilities).
    • Also look at the Ministry of Education's list of groups that provide library resources and digital collections for students with special education learning needs.

    Groups that can support you — information from the Ministry of Education.

    Build your home library

    Ways you can build your home library are to:

    • surround your home with books in a range of genre, magazines, newspapers and catalogues
    • make story-boxes or bags that contain a story book and items that correspond to items in the story
    • swap books, comics and magazines with other families
    • visit specialist children's booksellers, or bookshops with knowledgeable staff to discover the best resources available 
    • give gift books or book tokens for birthdays and Christmas
    • buy second-hand reading material from shops or online
    • get games and puzzles that require your child to read and follow instructions
    • use everyday materials such as cookbooks, cereal boxes, websites, television adverts, telephone directories, and environmental print such as road signs, billboards and logos.

    Explore online reading material

    Check out suitable digital resources at your school library and on public library websites. Some examples schools use include:

    International Children’s Digital Library — digitised copies of print books from around the world in more than 50 languages, including a small selection in Te reo Māori and Pasifika languages.

    Kiwi Kids News — latest news items and current events about NZ and overseas selected for students and teachers.

    My home library — author Anne Fine shares tips and free bookplates, created by notable children's book illustrators, which you can use to create a sense of ownership in new or secondhand books.

    Project Gutenberg — range of digitised print books from around the world, including the Children’s Bookshelf and Audio Books sections.

    Story boxes: A hands-on literacy experience — Norma Drissel shares ideas for story boxes, includes picture book suggestions and objects to use.

    Unite for Literacy — eBooks/audiobooks (fiction and non-fiction) in English and a variety of other languages for emerging readers.

  • Make time, place, and routines for reading

    Make reading a regular part of home life. Ways to do this include:

    • Reading for 15 minutes each day or being read to. Mem Fox says this helps children become excellent readers, writers and thinkers. It could be in 3 lots of 5 minutes. It isn’t much time but it makes a huge difference.
    • Manage how much TV, gaming and other screen time your child has.
    • Look at reading before bed, being snuggled in a chair or sitting together on the couch as a family, reading your own books on a weekend morning.
    • Bedtime reading makes a big impact. Especially when children are read books with ideas and vocabulary at a higher level than they can read themselves. As they get better at reading children will often gradually move to reading to themselves at bedtime. But they will still enjoy and benefit from being read to long after they can read to themselves.
    • Bedtime stories can include an ongoing serial for older children, as well as shorter stories of all kinds for young or old.
    • Jim Trelease recommends 'the three Bs' — book ownership, bookshelves and a bedside lamp, with bedtime pushed out in favour of quiet reading time.

    Mem Fox — an Australian writer of children's books and an educationalist specialising in literacy.

    Jim Trelease — his goal is to help children make books into friends, not enemies.

    Keep reading over summer and the holidays

    Keep reading and writing happening over the school holidays and the long summer break. Many children, especially struggling readers, forget some of what they've learned or slip out of practice during the summer holidays. Reading to your child and encouraging them to read and write over the summer holidays helps prevent the 'summer slide' - when they lose the gains they've made over the year.

  • Make time, place, and routines for reading

    Make reading a regular part of home life. Ways to do this include:

    • Reading for 15 minutes each day or being read to. Mem Fox says this helps children become excellent readers, writers and thinkers. It could be in 3 lots of 5 minutes. It isn’t much time but it makes a huge difference.
    • Manage how much TV, gaming and other screen time your child has.
    • Look at reading before bed, being snuggled in a chair or sitting together on the couch as a family, reading your own books on a weekend morning.
    • Bedtime reading makes a big impact. Especially when children are read books with ideas and vocabulary at a higher level than they can read themselves. As they get better at reading children will often gradually move to reading to themselves at bedtime. But they will still enjoy and benefit from being read to long after they can read to themselves.
    • Bedtime stories can include an ongoing serial for older children, as well as shorter stories of all kinds for young or old.
    • Jim Trelease recommends 'the three Bs' — book ownership, bookshelves and a bedside lamp, with bedtime pushed out in favour of quiet reading time.

    Mem Fox — an Australian writer of children's books and an educationalist specialising in literacy.

    Jim Trelease — his goal is to help children make books into friends, not enemies.

    Keep reading over summer and the holidays

    Keep reading and writing happening over the school holidays and the long summer break. Many children, especially struggling readers, forget some of what they've learned or slip out of practice during the summer holidays. Reading to your child and encouraging them to read and write over the summer holidays helps prevent the 'summer slide' - when they lose the gains they've made over the year.

  • Read aloud to your children every day

    Reading aloud to your children every day will help them become great readers and listeners. But most of all they will love you for doing it with them and will remember your time reading together all their lives! When you read to your child, you are saying:

    • I love you
    • I value my time with you
    • I love reading and think it is important.

    the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success is reading aloud to children…
    — Richard C Anderson (1985) Becoming a Nation of Readers: The Report of the Commission on Reading

    Reading aloud

  • Read aloud to your children every day

    Reading aloud to your children every day will help them become great readers and listeners. But most of all they will love you for doing it with them and will remember your time reading together all their lives! When you read to your child, you are saying:

    • I love you
    • I value my time with you
    • I love reading and think it is important.

    the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success is reading aloud to children…
    — Richard C Anderson (1985) Becoming a Nation of Readers: The Report of the Commission on Reading

    Reading aloud

  • Talk about books

    Talking about books helps children become readers too so when you are reading together:

    • look at books and talk about the pictures
    • talk about what you’ve just read
    • point out interesting details in the illustrations
    • predict or wonder what will happen next
    • share feelings about the book
    • tell your children your family’s own stories and encourage them to tell them to you too
    • talk about reading we do all through the day - signs, recipes and instructions.
  • Talk about books

    Talking about books helps children become readers too so when you are reading together:

    • look at books and talk about the pictures
    • talk about what you’ve just read
    • point out interesting details in the illustrations
    • predict or wonder what will happen next
    • share feelings about the book
    • tell your children your family’s own stories and encourage them to tell them to you too
    • talk about reading we do all through the day - signs, recipes and instructions.
  • Listen to your children read

    Learn how to listen to your child reading aloud — what to do and not do to help them. Below are some tips and resources you can use:

    • Ask your child's teacher for some positive 'helping strategies'.
    • Use the 'Pause prompt praise' method.
    • Encourage your child to share and retell family stories.

    Pause, prompt, praise — information on the Te Kete Ipurangi (TKI) website

    Guidelines for listening to children read (pdf, 1.02MB)

  • Listen to your children read

    Learn how to listen to your child reading aloud — what to do and not do to help them. Below are some tips and resources you can use:

    • Ask your child's teacher for some positive 'helping strategies'.
    • Use the 'Pause prompt praise' method.
    • Encourage your child to share and retell family stories.

    Pause, prompt, praise — information on the Te Kete Ipurangi (TKI) website

    Guidelines for listening to children read (pdf, 1.02MB)

  • Be a reading role model

    Children learn by watching the adults around them. Parents and whānau are vital reading role models for children, and for boys, dads and other males are especially important. Things you can do include:

    • Explain to your child why the simple act of reading for pleasure is so important yet an enjoyable way to spend time! (leads to improved literacy skills, vocabulary and knowledge of the world)
    • Make sure your children see you reading — often parents do most of their recreational reading when their children are in bed.
    • Look at including members of your wider whānau — grandparents, aunties and uncles, and other family members. Reading with grandchildren can be a special time for grandparents, cementing close bonds between the generations. Technology also makes it possible for long distance grandparents to share books through video tools such as Skype and social networking tools.
    • Talk about what you are reading with your children, and share your favourites from your childhood.
    • Provide opportunities for your child (and yourself) to share their experiences and successes. Allow time to talk about authors and titles, genres and series, share favourites and identify 'read-alikes' (suggestions of similar titlesyour child may enjoy) using a reading suggestion engine.
    • When you make it clear that reading is part of your everyday life, you’ll find that reading becomes part of their lives too.

    Reading suggestion engines — on Pinterest by Joyce Valenza

    ATN reading lists — read alikes

  • Be a reading role model

    Children learn by watching the adults around them. Parents and whānau are vital reading role models for children, and for boys, dads and other males are especially important. Things you can do include:

    • Explain to your child why the simple act of reading for pleasure is so important yet an enjoyable way to spend time! (leads to improved literacy skills, vocabulary and knowledge of the world)
    • Make sure your children see you reading — often parents do most of their recreational reading when their children are in bed.
    • Look at including members of your wider whānau — grandparents, aunties and uncles, and other family members. Reading with grandchildren can be a special time for grandparents, cementing close bonds between the generations. Technology also makes it possible for long distance grandparents to share books through video tools such as Skype and social networking tools.
    • Talk about what you are reading with your children, and share your favourites from your childhood.
    • Provide opportunities for your child (and yourself) to share their experiences and successes. Allow time to talk about authors and titles, genres and series, share favourites and identify 'read-alikes' (suggestions of similar titlesyour child may enjoy) using a reading suggestion engine.
    • When you make it clear that reading is part of your everyday life, you’ll find that reading becomes part of their lives too.

    Reading suggestion engines — on Pinterest by Joyce Valenza

    ATN reading lists — read alikes

  • Let children choose books and keep reading fun!

    One of the best ways to encourage your children to read is to give them plenty of reading, which is fun.

    • Keep it light and easy
    • Don’t underestimate how much reading happens with comics, magazines or graphic novels
    • When a child hooks into a favourite series and reads them all their reading mileage soars.

    Light reading often leads to heavier reading once the reading habit is formed. We all read in different ways and Daniel Pennac’s Readers Bill of Rights is a good message for all readers — young and old. The 10 rights are:

    1. The right to not read
    2. The right to skip pages
    3. The right to not finish
    4. The right to reread
    5. The right to read anything
    6. The right to escapism
    7. The right to read anywhere
    8. The right to browse
    9. The right to read out loud
    10. The right to not defend your tastes

    Help your child figure out his or her interests by asking these questions: If a book were written just for you, what would it be about? If you could be an expert on any subject, what would it be? What are two things you are really curious about?
    Amy Friedman

    Fun activities to explore

    Fun activities you can try when reading at home are:

    • Try acting out parts of a story, perform some scenes from plays or other texts, use storytelling puppets
    • Look at using storytelling tools for your child to write their version of a story.
    • Find activities and events at your school and public library you and your child participate in. For example, book clubs, poetry readings, Book Week, language weeks, holiday programmes and community celebrations.
    • Some activities might also blend reading with activities and crafts where your child learns to use tools and materials and develops creative projects. Known as STEM/STEAM, these activities incorporate one or more aspects of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Maths. You could look at similar activities to do at home.

    Other resources on the web are:

    How to make puppets — 6 ideas using everyday materials to make puppets

    STEAM — Amy Koester's Pinterest includes ideas, activities, experiments, and reading suggestions for projects.

    Web 2.0 cool tools for schools — ideas on tools you could share for storytelling.

    Finger Puppets (YouTube video 12:38) — tips with puppets, such as Kimberly Faurot’s Finger puppets.

  • Let children choose books and keep reading fun!

    One of the best ways to encourage your children to read is to give them plenty of reading, which is fun.

    • Keep it light and easy
    • Don’t underestimate how much reading happens with comics, magazines or graphic novels
    • When a child hooks into a favourite series and reads them all their reading mileage soars.

    Light reading often leads to heavier reading once the reading habit is formed. We all read in different ways and Daniel Pennac’s Readers Bill of Rights is a good message for all readers — young and old. The 10 rights are:

    1. The right to not read
    2. The right to skip pages
    3. The right to not finish
    4. The right to reread
    5. The right to read anything
    6. The right to escapism
    7. The right to read anywhere
    8. The right to browse
    9. The right to read out loud
    10. The right to not defend your tastes

    Help your child figure out his or her interests by asking these questions: If a book were written just for you, what would it be about? If you could be an expert on any subject, what would it be? What are two things you are really curious about?
    Amy Friedman

    Fun activities to explore

    Fun activities you can try when reading at home are:

    • Try acting out parts of a story, perform some scenes from plays or other texts, use storytelling puppets
    • Look at using storytelling tools for your child to write their version of a story.
    • Find activities and events at your school and public library you and your child participate in. For example, book clubs, poetry readings, Book Week, language weeks, holiday programmes and community celebrations.
    • Some activities might also blend reading with activities and crafts where your child learns to use tools and materials and develops creative projects. Known as STEM/STEAM, these activities incorporate one or more aspects of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Maths. You could look at similar activities to do at home.

    Other resources on the web are:

    How to make puppets — 6 ideas using everyday materials to make puppets

    STEAM — Amy Koester's Pinterest includes ideas, activities, experiments, and reading suggestions for projects.

    Web 2.0 cool tools for schools — ideas on tools you could share for storytelling.

    Finger Puppets (YouTube video 12:38) — tips with puppets, such as Kimberly Faurot’s Finger puppets.

  • Keep teens reading

    Teens are faced with multiple screen based distractions such as social media, gaming and television and more traditional demands for their time e.g school work, hanging out with friends and sports. It's more important than ever to support and encourage them to read for pleasure. Not only for the significant educational benefits but as a highly effective way of relaxing and building empathy.

    How parents can encourage teens to read — information from the Adolescent Literacy organisation.

    Engaging teens with reading

  • Keep teens reading

    Teens are faced with multiple screen based distractions such as social media, gaming and television and more traditional demands for their time e.g school work, hanging out with friends and sports. It's more important than ever to support and encourage them to read for pleasure. Not only for the significant educational benefits but as a highly effective way of relaxing and building empathy.

    How parents can encourage teens to read — information from the Adolescent Literacy organisation.

    Engaging teens with reading

  • Resources about reading at home

    Bookstart — inspiring a love of books in every child.

    Booktrust — Get Dad's Reading.

    Education.govt.nz for parents — get more tips on helping your child learn at home at Education.govt.nz​.

    Getting the blokes on board (pdf, 5.6MB) — the UK National Literacy Trust's free downloadable toolkit.

    GuysRead — a website to inspire boys' reading

    Jim Trelease — a well-known and passionate advocate for reading aloud to children.

    Love my books — a UK site which brings together brilliant books with creative reading activities. Designed to engage and excite young children’s interest and includes resources on early chapter books.

    Reading connects family involvement toolkit (pdf, 5.95MB) — the UK National Literacy Trust's free downloadable toolkit.

    Kids and family reading report — looks at 'views of kids and parents on reading in the increasingly digital landscape and the influences that impact kids’ reading frequency and attitudes toward reading.'

    Top Tips for engaging Dads is a one-page summary of great tips

    Words for Life website — from the UK Literacy Trust gives you an idea of what communication milestones your baby and child might reach as they grow. There are ideas for fun activities you can do together to help your children develop their skills.

    World of Possible — has resources including book lists, tips for reading with your children and a blog.

    Public libraries kids' stuff

    Christchurch City Libraries

    Wellington City Libraries

    Auckland City Library

    ReadKiddoRead — has been created by prolific US author James Patterson, to help hook kids into reading.

    Reading Rockets — find great kids books and authors

  • Resources about reading at home

    Bookstart — inspiring a love of books in every child.

    Booktrust — Get Dad's Reading.

    Education.govt.nz for parents — get more tips on helping your child learn at home at Education.govt.nz​.

    Getting the blokes on board (pdf, 5.6MB) — the UK National Literacy Trust's free downloadable toolkit.

    GuysRead — a website to inspire boys' reading

    Jim Trelease — a well-known and passionate advocate for reading aloud to children.

    Love my books — a UK site which brings together brilliant books with creative reading activities. Designed to engage and excite young children’s interest and includes resources on early chapter books.

    Reading connects family involvement toolkit (pdf, 5.95MB) — the UK National Literacy Trust's free downloadable toolkit.

    Kids and family reading report — looks at 'views of kids and parents on reading in the increasingly digital landscape and the influences that impact kids’ reading frequency and attitudes toward reading.'

    Top Tips for engaging Dads is a one-page summary of great tips

    Words for Life website — from the UK Literacy Trust gives you an idea of what communication milestones your baby and child might reach as they grow. There are ideas for fun activities you can do together to help your children develop their skills.

    World of Possible — has resources including book lists, tips for reading with your children and a blog.

    Public libraries kids' stuff

    Christchurch City Libraries

    Wellington City Libraries

    Auckland City Library

    ReadKiddoRead — has been created by prolific US author James Patterson, to help hook kids into reading.

    Reading Rockets — find great kids books and authors

  • Reading brochures for download

  • Reading brochures for download