I am very lucky that my two kids adore each other and generally get along really well (of course they are siblings and siblings do have arguments) but they happily play together and really do enjoy each others company.
For a number of years now we have done something that we refer to as family reading – it is where my husband or I read to the kids and the kids join in with the reading – when they were younger it would just be a sentence or a word, then in grew into a paragraph, a page and now sometimes my oldest will read an entire chapter in the family reading book. It has worked really well for us. But that is not what I what to talk about today it is more what has grown out of the family reading sessions and has become the sibling reading sessions.
It has been going on for over a year now and it has been an incredible thing to watch. It started with my youngest listening to his sister reading one of her books, then it grew to him sitting next to her and following word for word, then he would join in and just read a paragraph or a page of her book and now it has gone full circle to him reading entire books to his older sister. (She is also very good with correcting him, we have policy not to correct small errors when the kids are reading – the words we know the kids can read but rather focus on helping them with the longer words. She has adopted this strategy with her brother and only corrects or helps him with more complex words. So he does not feel like he is being constantly corrected.)
They both love it.
After recently listening to him read a fairly complex book to his sister I sat and thought about what it was that we have done differently with him that has propelled his reading so quickly (and it is not that he is a natural in languages, in fact his sister is the one who has a flair for languages). There is honestly nothing different that we have done and I am convinced it comes down to the sibling reading. He has had the advantage of having his parents read to him AND his sister read to him. And his sister is a bookworm so she reads every day and she reads a wide selection of books and 90% of the time when she is reading he goes and sits and follows along.
The sibling reading has without a doubt helped his reading. But it has also made reading books something to be proud of, something that he has desperately wanted to do so he could be like his big sister. He wanted that pride of being the one doing the reading. He wanted to be the one who “told the story”.