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Building strong reading habits: Back-to-school tips and book recommendations

Black boy sitting at school desk with arms folded over books

As most Canadian families prepare for the back-to-school season, we have a few effective strategies to help nurture excellent reading habits and ensure a successful academic year for children.

  1. Create a reading-friendly space: Set up a cozy and inviting reading nook in your home where children can read without distractions. Ensure good lighting and comfortable seating to create an environment that encourages extended reading sessions.

  2. Set a Reading Schedule - Establish a daily reading routine. Whether it's before bedtime, after school, or during a specific time of the day, consistency is key. Over time, children will come to associate that time with reading and look forward to it.

  3. Be a good reading partner - Children are more likely to embrace reading if they see their parents, older siblings, or caregivers reading regularly. Let them see you reading books, magazines, or even e-books. Show them that reading is a joyful and valuable activity.

Pro tip: Create or join reading clubs for children where they can discuss books with their peers. This promotes social interaction, shared learning, and a sense of community around reading. It also helps to make reading fun!

Book club for Black youth

Love of Literature has a unique book club program that encourages children of Black, African and Caribbean heritage to explore the world of literature in a safe and supportive environment. Through engaging activities, book discussions, and mentorship from experienced educators, our members are free to explore books from a range of genres and topics while connecting with their peers around their shared experiences. We read books with Black characters because representation matters.

Back-to-school book recommendations

Here are some back-to-school book suggestions that all children can enjoy!

Early readers (Pre-K)

Book cover: The King of Kindergarten by Derrick Barnes, African American picture book

King of Kindergarten, by Derrick Barnes

Check out this empowering story about a little boy ready to take on the first day of kindergarten with confidence and enthusiasm. The King of Kindergarten can help give reluctant children a much-needed boost for a successful first day of school. Derrick Barnes is also the author of The Queen of Kindergarten.


Elementary readers (Ages 7 - 10)

Book cover: The Day You Begin, by Jacqueline Woodson, African American picture book

The Day You Begin, by Jacqueline Woodson

When walking into a new school or situation, it is reasonable to feel nervous or afraid, especially if you don't fit in. The Day You Begin is a beautiful picture book many children and adults can relate to. This book encourages readers to embrace their unique qualities and find the courage to connect with others when feeling scared or alone.


Middle school readers (Ages 11 - 14)

Book cover: Class Act, by Jerry Craft, African American graphic novel

Class Act, by Jerry Craft

Class Act is the second book in the Jerry Craft New Kid series. This entertaining graphic novel will make you laugh, think and empathize with the main character, Drew. Craft expertly uses humour to address challenging topics of race, class and belonging in a story about true friendship.

Fostering good reading habits in children is a gift that lasts a lifetime. By creating a nurturing reading environment, leading by example, and allowing children to choose their reading materials, parents and educators can instill a love for reading that transcends the classroom. As the new school year begins, remember that nurturing young readers is an investment in their academic success and personal growth.

Happy reading!

Love of Literature

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