Families that read together learn together. And what’s more, an elementary school Family Reading Night can be great fun. Education World says “reading nights not only motivate children to read more at home, but they also can encourage parents to get more involved in their children's education.” Space and time devoted to families reading together is important. The activities you provide at a reading night can help build a love of reading and promote parental involvement.
Create a theme for your Family Reading Night. The theme provides a hook to draw families in and makes it easier to plan your activities around the theme. Theme your night around the time of year; a Halloween Reading Night can include scary stories or poems read by children or teachers with a dress-up element that makes reading aloud more fun. December is the time for Celebrations Reading Night with parents or teachers reading their favorite holiday stories among the festive decorations. Develop your theme through costume. Hold a Pyjama Party Reading Night, set up cushions and blankets and have children come along dressed in their pyjamas to listen to stories read by their parents or teachers. Kids can come dressed as their favorite characters and read a little from their favorite books. Try Hat Night for parents and children to come wearing fun hats and tell stories about hats. Create a "story-telling hat" that is passed around as a cue for parents to read out loud. Have parents brings a flashlight and blanket to sit on for Flashlight Reading Night, darken the gym, and let families sit reading a favorite book to each other in their own space. Set up the school into themed rooms that are decorated and filled with books related to that theme. Provide parents with a map and schedule times for a themed "read-aloud" in each room.
Enliven your Family Reading Night with guest readers who come in with their favorite books and present them to parents, children and teachers. Match the type of books or readers to your theme. Invite local celebrities, sportsmen and women, community leaders, principals, church leaders and librarians. Ask uniformed members of the community such as police officers, firefighters or military personnel to be your guest readers and talk about their work. Invite local authors to come in and read from their books. Many Family Reading Nights arrange for professional storytellers to give dramatic readings. Others schedule a guest reader who has real expertise in a certain area relating to reading and writing, for instance folk tales, Native American literature, or even American Sign Language. Try a bilingual theme with readers presenting stories in Spanish.
Have a few fun activities related to reading for parents to participate in with their children. Try a book-themed Scavenger Hunt in the classrooms or outside if the season allows. Set up craft stations to do with literacy. For example, have a bookmark-making activity station or a make-a-book corner. Set up a room with the beginnings of fairy tales on big sheets of paper for parents and children to complete in their own words. Keep a guest register at the front entrance for all guests to sign in by writing their favorite books and then write all these favorites on a "graffiti wall" where children can add their ideas and pictures.
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