Word on the street is that reading out loud to your kiddos can improve their own reading skills. We spoke with Kim Christenson about a few interesting reads that will get your kids excited about reading.

The first book Christenson brought to share was titled “Mandy,” written by Julie Andrews. This novel highlights a young orphan girl who finds an abandoned cottage and restores it. Her second recommendation is “In the Beautiful Country” by Jane Kuo. It follows a young Taiwanese girl who moves to California with her family and how she adjusts to her new life in the United States. One of her favorites is the book “Goose Girl” written by Shannon Hale which takes a different perspective on a classic fairytale. A few others she recommends are “The War that Saved My Life” by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley and “Holes” by Louis Sachar. 

Reading is very important to a child’s intellectual as well as emotional development. In fact, Christenson states “A few other tips Christenson has to get kids excited about reading aloud is to include a fun snack, listen to a recording, and picking a book that has a movie adaptation to watch together after you finish reading. 

A recent study from Brigham Young University conducted by economics professor, Joseph Price,  showed that children who have been read aloud to had higher test scores than their peers who hadn’t been. “Reading aloud can do more to improve children’s knowledge and academic performance even more than private schooling and private tutoring.” Christenson said. She credits the reason being  the connection a child has with an adult and positive association with reading with a trusted adult. Another reason is reading comprehension is higher when a parent or trusted adult reads to them as there is more context and exposition to the child that an adult provides. When a child reads on their own, they may struggle to fully understand the content. Christenson also brought a few summer reading books for kids. 

‘Number the Stars’, a familiar book often read by sixth graders, tells the story of a young Jewish girl in Denmark during World War II. Christenson even had the opportunity to meet with the author of the book, Lois Lowry at a writing conference. Christenson called Lowry “incredible” and says this book is a must for the summer. Christenson also said Lowry has many other incredible books including ‘The Giver’. 

‘The Penderwicks’ by Jeanne Birdsall is a five book compilation that Christenson says is the “perfect summer read for families.”  The story is about four sisters and a boy they meet during a summer vacation and the adventures they have. Christenson describes the book as “lighthearted, adventurous and fun.” 

‘Esperanza Rising’ by Pam Munoz Ryan is a book that Christenson started to read with her daughter. Christenson’s daughter became so engrossed with this book that she read it on her own. Christenson enjoyed this book herself and feels it’s something that will be very appealing to kids.

Christenson also called ‘..Mixed Up Files of Basil E. Frankweiler’ by E.L. Konigsburg “a classic.” The book is about two siblings who plan to run away from home and end up staying in a museum and tells the antics they get into. Christenson says this book is funny and adventurous and beloved by her own children. 

Christenson’s final choice, ‘Ghost’, by social activist and creative writing professor Jason Reynolds is a National Book Award Finalist. The book is about a young boy in middle school wanting to be a sprinter. This is part of a series which all have a different protagonist in each book. 

Christenson feels it is advantageous to read to your children each night before bed, something she does with her own kids. “It’s part of our bedtime routine. I either let them pick a book if they have one they’re interested in or they say ‘Mom, you pick.’ And I’ll pick a book in that case and we read for [about] 10 [or] 15 minutes  a night before bed.” said Christenson. Christenson encourages parents to continue reading with their children even after they can read on their own and to incorporate it regularly. She lets viewers know that it’s never too late and it’s ok if parents are not perfect about it, which she admittedly said some nights she and her kids don’t do it. Another suggestion is to incorporate it during meal time. The Christenson Clan spends a lot of time during the summer at the library to find something for everyone.

For more tips on how to read with your kids, follow Christenson on Instagram: @talkwordytome_