How Many Minutes Should My Child Read Per Day? (Why Reading Everyday Matters)
I’m Graham Rogers. For the last 20+ years, I’ve delivered amazingly successful assemblies programs on reading for schools in multiple countries across the globe. My goal with these articles is to share useful strategies parents and educators can use when working with elementary school-age children.
Reading comprehension is one of the most valuable skills your child will ever develop. Helping your child foster a love of reading will serve them well for the rest of their lives. Let’s get into the article
Reading is a skill like anything else. By devoting so much time to reading, your child is exercising the most powerful muscle in their body…their brain! Like any muscle, the brain needs reps. The more reps, the more developed that part of the brain becomes. The result? Your child’s reading level will increase.
But it’s more than just ‘mental exercise.’ Those extra reps help develop your child’s overall literacy skills to become quick readers. They’ll have higher reading comprehension. And with better reading comprehension comes speed. If your child has an average reading speed or is even a slow reader, the extra reps with those additional 15 minutes can pay off big time. And who knows? If your child doesn’t have a deep love of reading, the added time may just change their perspective! Pretty soon your child may go past that 30 minutes a day and finish the entire book!
Now we know how important those extra minutes are. But what can you as a parent do to help your child? I’ve got you covered…
Fast Reader Strategy #1: Meet with Your Child’s Teacher
At the beginning of the school year, it’s crucial to meet with your child’s teacher. What kind of reading will your child be expected to do? For fourth graders, chapter books will likely be more common. Short stories and even poems may be part of the teacher’s curriculum. Once you understand what their expectations are, you’ll know how to help your child set goals.
Fast Reader Strategy #2: Assess Your Child’s Reading Skills
While there may be new apps and other reading tests to assess your child’s overall reading skills, this time-tested oral method still works wonderfully well. Have your child read out loud for one minute. As they read, count the words. It’s a simple way to determine your child’s average rate of speed. If your child can’t pronounce a given new word or skips it, don’t count it. The number of words read is your child’s oral reading fluency.
Your child’s teacher will likely determine the reading level of the class based on age and grade. But if your child is a slow reader with poor reading habits, the teacher can give your child an individualized reading test. In some cases, this simply involves your child reading from a standardized book and calculating the reading level based on the child’s speed. The grade-appropriate books also have a sliding scale of difficulty ranging from A to Z.
Fast Reader Strategy #2: Encourage Independent Reading
The best practice to this critical 30 minutes a day of reading? It has to be outside of your child’s regular classroom activities. So we’re talking about independent reading. For kids who don’t enjoy reading or are slow readers, the key is finding topics or genres your child is curious about.
Look at your child’s interests. What do they enjoy doing when they are not in school? Do they enjoy Marvel superhero movies? You could take your child to the local bookstore and show the various graphic novels. Because these books are the forebears of what they see on TV or the big screen, they may be interested in seeing these characters they already love in a different setting.
What about certain time periods? Some kids are drawn to different periods in history. Does your child find the Old West fascinating? Older students may be interested in gothic horror, teen romance, or any number of surprising topics! You can introduce them to different kinds of historical fiction. There’s no reason why these extra minutes of reading outside of school can’t be something they enjoy.
Fast Reader Strategy #3 Introduce New Words
Want to help your child increase their reading skill level? Introduce them to new words! But instead of just handing your child a dictionary or opening a phone app, you can turn this into a game. Go through your dictionary or online resource. Create a list of new words for your child to learn.
Print the words out and cut each word into its own separate slip of paper. Then put all the slips into a bowl. Each morning, have your child draw one word out of the bowl. Their task for the rest of the day? See how many times they encounter that word in their day.
You may want to select words your child has an opportunity to encounter for this to work. If you live in Phoenix, Arizona and the word of the day is “Tibet,” you’ve drastically reduced the chances of your child organically encountering that word during the day!
Another idea is to use word-centric board games. Scrabble is a wonderful way to exercise your child’s “reading muscles”
Fast Reader Strategy #4: Use Repetition to Develop Solid Reading Habits
This is a simple strategy but an important one. Want to ensure your child becomes an avid reader? This independent reading habit has to be a daily routine. Even during the summer months when school is out! It’s the same idea as exercising. To make it a habit, you have to do it constantly and regularly.
While exercising daily may not be recommended (depending on your level of exertion and physical condition), there is no downside to reading daily. To make it an easier habit to “stick,” consider scheduling the daily reading at a set time.
You may find yourself adjusting this time. From extracurricular activities like sports or other activities, schedules may vary wildly depending on the time of year. But having a set schedule will help your child hone their reading skills and increase the number of words they read. The result? Higher scores on tests. Better reading comprehension. And maybe even a new-found love of reading!
Fast Reader Strategy #5: Use a Reading Log to Track Minutes of Daily Reading
Neither you nor your child will know how many words they are logging unless you keep track. By using a reading log, you’ll both know how much progress your child is making. To make things interesting and provide a bit of extra motivation, consider a reward.
When your child hits certain benchmarks in their reading, they get the reward. But the only way to know when they’ve hit their goal is by tracking it. The key is to make this fun for your child. The more engrossed they get in a great book, the more likely they’ll enjoy going longer than the daily minimum.
A Reading School Assembly for Your Child’s School
Are you part of your child’s school’s PTA/PTO? I offer fun-filled reading assemblies for K-5 schools. My shows are filled with fun magic, audience participation, and more. Best of all, I have designed my shows to align with Arizona’s educational standards. Want to learn more? Check out my reading assembly page for more information.