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African mother reading a Christmas card to a little girl.

ALABAMA A&M UNIVERSITY, Ala. – With a little bit of imagination, parents can develop creative ways to get their children reading this holiday.

This time of the year, children are excited about winter break, while parents are stressed about finding the perfect gifts. Many parents forget the importance of providing opportunities that contribute to their children’s academic success.

“Here are a few things parents can do to enhance a child’s reading skills while on holiday break,” said Dorothy Brandon, an Alabama Extension family and consumer science specialist.

Card Duty

  • Give him or her the responsibility of reading each holiday card the family receives.

Use a Child’s Environment for Reading

  • Ask the child to identify specific letters or numbers on cars, road signs or buildings. This is game that can be played while traveling.
  • Ask the child to identify objects that start with or end with a specific sound.
  • Have the child identify objects that rhyme with words associated with the holiday season. For example, ask him or her to identify words that rhyme with joy.
  • Ask older children to identify a word starting with the last letter of a given word.

“These activities can help children with sounds, recognition of rhymes, letter recognition and vocabulary,” Brandon said.

Let Children Be the Storyteller

Select a story related to the holidays and read a portion of the story. Stop at a certain point in the story and ask the child to create an ending to the story. Then, have the child read the ending of the story to the family when completed. This activity can help the child with comprehension, the use of his or her imagination and critical thinking skills.

Let Children Be a Kitchen Helper

Include children when preparing holiday meals. Ask him or her to read the recipe as you collect and mix the ingredients. Also, ask a child to help create a shopping list and to collect the items on the list. If the child cannot read, ask him or her to draw a picture of an item. They can also cut out a picture of the item from the magazine to put on the shopping list. This activity can help the child with word association, vocabulary and comprehension.

Create a Family Story Night

Set aside specific nights or times for family members to share their favorite story. Some family members may want to read the story to the family, while others share what the story was about. This activity promotes reading comprehension, listening and vocabulary skills.

More Information

For more information about how to get children reading during the holidays, contact Brandon at 256-372-5458. Visit www.aces.edu to learn more about Alabama Extension family literacy activities.

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