dadreadingThere are so many things that I, as a teacher, wish that people accepted regarding education. The list is, actually, endless: it lowers prejudice, it improves healthcare, it gains you respect, it makes your world safer, it makes you self reliant, it improves your confidence, it brings equality, it brings you money, it helps with economic growth,  it turns your dreams into reality… (I could go on, but I think I have made my point). I have never heard someone say “I wish I wasn’t so damn well-educated!”

Now that we have accepted the above fact, that education is good for us, how do we go about getting one? Or more importantly, how do we make sure that our children get one?

Reading for 20 minutes a night is just one of the ways. According to Nagy & Herman (1987) there are clear benefits:

What does reading 20 minutes a night really mean?
It means that your kids are reading out loud to you.   If your kids are in Pre-school or Kindergarten, they are probably reading the small, repetitive books like “I went to the seaside.  Mummy went to the seaside.  Daddy went to the seaside.  We all had fun!”.

At Pre- school level spending time on word books and story books is a good idea. Word books will help them to focus on specific letters and sounds, and will build a good foundation for them to start recognising words and reading themselves. Story books allow them to listen to the sound and rhythm of your voice, and they will learn to mimic it. So no matter how often you have read The Hungry Caterpillar, make sure you inject enthusiasm and interest into your voice- they will hear it.

At Kindergarten level, I would suggest getting your child to read each of those small books three times each.

– The first time you are reading to sound out the words.
– The second time you are reading for comprehension.
– The third time you are reading for fluency (to read at a faster rate.)If after that you have not reached 20 minutes yet, this would be a great chance for YOU to read to your child.For your older children, ask them to read a chapter book to you for about 15-20 minutes.  No doubt they would prefer to read it silently, but the idea behind reading it out loud is so that you can listen to them.

-You can make sure that they don’t just skip over hard words.
-You can help them with mistakes.

-When they are finished, you can ask them to tell you about the story (what happened, who were the characters…).

Reading with your children is such a special time. As your children grow older, they’ll be on the move—playing, running, and constantly exploring their environment. They won’t want you reading with them. Curling up together with a book lets the two of you slow down and recaptures that sweet, cuddly time you enjoyed when they were a baby. Instead of being seen as a chore or a task, reading will become a nurturing activity that will give you a nice bond. And as an added bonus you’ll be able to re-read all the books that captured you as a child!


Nagy, W., & Herman, P. A. (1987). Breadth and depth of vocabulary knowledge: Implications for acquisition and instruction. In M. McKeown & M. Curtis (Eds.), The nature of vocabulary acquisition (pp. 19-59). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum