Back to School Reading

Welcome to Elephant Notes . . . our periodic take on some of the ideas, issues, and news impacting parents, children, and reading. This week, it’s back-to-school time! 

With Labor Day around the corner, it’s just about time to go back to school. Back to drop offs and pickups and after school activities and sports clubs and bake sales. Back to helping with homework and packing lunches and scrambling to make sure everyone has their shoes on in time. Every parent knows how chaotic the beginning of the school year can be.

Even in all the craziness, it’s important to maintain a routine of reading with your child. Establishing and continuing a routine demonstrates that reading is important, enjoyable and valuable. Hopefully, this will encourage your children to develop into avid readers. And, of course, with every book you read (or reread), your child is improving their literacy skills, which will only prepare them for success.

Reading together after school is not just valuable to your child—there are some benefits for you as well. For one thing, sitting down to read a book is a great way for you to relax after a long, hectic day. You can bond and snuggle with your child while doing something relaxing and enjoyable. And, especially for parents whose children are just starting school, it can be a great time to reconnect if you’re missing your child a little extra during the work/school day.

Still, it can be hard to sit down and read when there are a million other different things going on. So, here are a few short tips for reading during the school year:

Set a time when you read together—establish a set time when you’ll read together every day. It can be a way to unwind after you get home in the afternoon or a way to settle down before bedtime. Scheduling reading as a part of your everyday routine will help make it a priority and will convey the importance of reading to your child. They will eventually jump into the routine and get excited when they know it’s time to dive into a great book with you. Make it even more fun by picking a special designated reading spot or by making a calendar or chart to mark off each day you read together.


Read something that connects to what your child is learning in school—incorporate reading into your homework time and capture your child’s interest by connecting what you’re reading to what they’re learning. Your child will engage with the material more deeply and remember it even better. You can connect it directly to the subject material, for example, by reading a book that features butterflies if they are learning about metamorphosis. You might also use reading to help them learn their numbers, letters, colors, shapes, etc. by identifying these different things in the books you have chosen.


Read a little extra on the weekends—schedule some extra reading time on the weekend if your weekdays are too hectic. With a little more time, you can really sit down and get swept into a book. Make it a special treat by snuggling up in a cozy spot, having a favorite snack, or simply reading a beloved book. Use that down time to support your child’s learning and grow them into an even more avid reader.


Carry a book around with you—utilize those few extra minutes running errands or waiting for appointments to read. It can be a great way to fight restlessness and boredom! It always pays off to have a book in your bag that you can pull out when you have some spare time you need help filling. Reading is a great activity to share anytime, anywhere.


Find a book club or a group of friends to read with—reading with others will help you maintain a routine of reading. This way, reading is secured into your daily or weekly schedule. Plus, you and your children can discuss the books with friends and experience different perspectives. Talking to others, you might pick up on something you hadn’t noticed or come to appreciate an aspect of the book even more. And reading together is undoubtedly a fantastic way to bond with others and create community.


Even though Back to School time is quite hectic, there are a number of ways to incorporate reading into your daily life. And continuing to read will only help your child to develop good literacy skills, gain better reading comprehension skills, and expand their vocabulary.