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Talk About the Text

A quick take on literacy development at home for parents and educators
Boy reading

The classroom provides a structured, social space for children to grow as readers. How can parents and teachers ensure that literacy learning and development continues while children are at home?

Child language and literacy expert Catherine Snow provides resources and offers advice for parents and teachers looking to support literacy development at home.

How to support your child's reading

Snow emphasizes the importance of ensuring not only that children have access to books, but also that they have access to conversation — someone to prompt their thinking through questions and discussion. “Think of this as family book club time,” Snow says.

  • For the youngest readers: read to them and talk with them about the text.
  • For beginning readers: read with them, alternating reading paragraphs or pages and talk with them about the text.
  • For older readers of chapter books or young adult novels: read the same books so you can talk with them about the text.

Continuing reading development

“Young readers build fluency and engagement reading fun books — the childhood equivalent of murder mysteries or romance novels,” Snow says. And while children should be encouraged to read for pleasure, it’s also important to ensure they’re being challenged (encountering new words and more complex ideas and themes) to ensure their literacy skills continue to develop. This may take the shape of finding a book that parents or an older sibling might want to read and discuss.

Writing for reading

Writing is a way of developing reading skills as well. “Figure out some topic your child is really interested in and suggest a little research project, with a final write-up, poster, slideshow presentation, or performance of what they’ve learned,” says Snow.

Additional Resources:


Read more in our ongoing series, Confronting the Coronavirus Outbreak, on how schools and communities can prepare and respond, support young people, build resilience, and keep the learning going.

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