Tip Four:  Read.

How simple is this concept?  Writing and reading go together like peanut butter and jelly.  Skilled writers are readers.  It makes sense, doesn't it?  An artist learns to draw by first looking at pictures.  An aspiring musician listens to music.  Writers read. 

How can you maximize reading to improve a child's writing?

Become a reader yourself.  Let your children see you reading-and enjoying it.  This may be the number one thing you can do to inspire a love of reading.

Read aloud regularly.  Make it a part of your family's lifestyle.  Let the experience evoke "warm fuzzies."  Cuddle together on the couch.  Make popcorn.  Do whatever it takes to make reading aloud delightful for your family. 

How can you make the most from reading aloud?

  • Stop often and discuss what is going on.  Let the child narrate back the action of the story.  Stop after each major scene to talk about what is happening. Make note of a well-written description or action scene.  Listen and respond to your child's questions or comments.
  • Don't make sitting still mandatory.  Let children mold clay as you read.  Or draw pictures.  Or play with Legos.  Or rub your tired feet.  Or wash the dishes.  Or fold clothes.
  • Read with expression.  DO NOT mumble or run words together.
  • Choose books from high quality literature.  You can't influence a child's writing for the good if the story being read was poorly written. 
  • If you take turns reading, don't break at the end of the paragraph or page.  Provide a book for each family member, then stop in the middle of a paragraph-or even better in the middle of a sentence.  This forces everyone to read along, to pay close attention because no one knows when his turn may come.

 Go ahead.  Sit down and enjoy a good book without a trace of guilt.  You're doing it for the sake of your children!