Can Eating Dinner Together Boost Your Kids’ Reading?

Can Eating Dinner Together Boost Your Kids’ Reading?

With everyone’s work and after-school commitments, it can be so hard to squeeze a family dinner into our evenings – the sort that happens at a table, with family members actually talking to each other. But we certainly have fond memories of the family dinners of our childhoods, with conversations that connected us and taught us about each other and the world.

We were interested to read an article by Anne Fishel, who’s an author, Associate Clinical Professor of Psychology at Harvard Medical School and co-founder of The Family Dinner Project, in which she argues that having dinner together can boost kids’ reading skills.

Fishel cites studies that show that children who are encouraged to tell stories (for example, at the dinner table) are likely to be better readers.

She lists a number of strategies you could use if you want to go further and encourage kids to tell longer stories that include more information:

  • Reminisce with your children about past experiences you’ve shared with them. “Remember when we forgot to take the brownies out of the oven?”
  • Ask a lot of open-ended questions, including plenty of ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions rather than questions with yes-or-no answers
  • Encourage longer stories by repeating what your child says or by elaborating on her story
  • Instead of deciding what story to tell, follow your child’s lead on what they want to talk about

Hearing stories can also boost kids’ vocabularies:

“When parents tell a story at the dinner table about their day or recount a funny family anecdote, they usually include many words that a
young child hasn’t yet learned but can understand from the context
of the story. Children who have rich vocabularies, packed with less common,
more sophisticated words, learn to read more easily because they can make sense of the words they are deciphering.”

These kinds of conversations, involving several people of different ages, are special and likely to expose kids to a far wider vocabulary than direct conversations with kids (one parent to one child). Fishel doesn’t make this comparison in her article, but in a previous post, Better Reading Kids looked at a study in the journal ‘Psychological Science’ which found that the vocabulary used in direct parent-to-child conversations was more limited than that in children’s picture books:

“Unlike conversations, books are not limited by here-and-now constraints; 
each book may be different from others in topic or content, opening new domains for 
discovery and bringing new words into play.”

So, we guess it comes down to doing as much talking, reading and playing together as we possibly can…

We’d love to hear about your family’s great dinner conversations – about books, or other topics! Let us know in the comment section on Facebook or below!

Related Articles

Remarkable Friendships: Better Reading Shares Their Favourite Special Friendships

News | Book Life

1 June 2022

Remarkable Friendships: Better Reading Shares Their Favourite Special Friendships

Combined Genius: Author-Illustrator Teams and How They Work Together

News | Book Life

6 January 2022

Combined Genius: Author-Illustrator Teams and How They Work Together

A New Year’s Resolution For Parents

News | Book Life

3 December 2021

A New Year’s Resolution For Parents

Screen Time and Reading Time: Never the twain shall meet?

Kids & Ya

23 November 2021

Screen Time and Reading Time: Never the twain shall meet?

Kids and screen time: time to stop judging and start parenting?

News | Book Life

12 January 2021

Kids and screen time: time to stop judging and start parenting?

Three intriguing studies about reading aloud to kids

Kids & Ya

7 January 2021

Three intriguing studies about reading aloud to kids

My Year of Reading Children's Books

News | Book Life

15 December 2019

My Year of Reading Children's Books

Great Books About Girls: Recommended by Zoe Norton Lodge

News | Author Related

5 December 2019

Great Books About Girls: Recommended by Zoe Norton Lodge

Favourite Fictional Pets

Kids & Ya

8 August 2019

Favourite Fictional Pets

Celebrate The Great Outdoors: Five Books for Nature Lovers

Kids & Ya

11 July 2019

Celebrate The Great Outdoors: Five Books for Nature Lovers

COMMENTS

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. victioa says:

    I am really happy to have found this site at last. Really informative and meaningful activities, Thanks for the post and effort! Please continue to share more as a blog. I have now saved it to my bookmarks so I can keep in touch with you. wheel spinner