Grandparent Discoveries Blog

How To Read To Your Grandchildren

Cheryl Beaudoin

Educators are always looking for the best ways to support learning for a wide range of students. Currently there is a great deal of focus in the literacy space about how best to teach children to read. There is a “science of reading” approach that supports a phonics and cognitive-based instructional method, and a “balanced literacy” approach that emphasizes word recognition and context clues. During my time as a Kindergarten teacher, I was passionate about a balanced literacy approach that had a solid phonics component—I felt it was the best of both worlds at the time! The pendulum swings in education constantly, as we continue to try to learn and do best for student learning as educational opportunities and challenges continue to evolve. 

What can we grandparents do to support our grands’ learning during the time they spend out of the classroom and with us? Read to them! And we, too, can take some different approaches to that. There are different ways we can read to children, depending on their age. 

With very young children, rhyming books are favorites as it gives the child cues to the cadence and structure of the words on the page.  Rhyming books also are easy to remember for children who do not yet know how to read themselves, which gives them the opportunity to feel as though they are “reading.” 

Another way to read to children is called “dialogic reading” which basically means having a dialogue while reading to your grandchild: asking questions to help them think about the story and characters in the book.  This technique allows you to help build their vocabulary and better understand the story structure and meaning of the story.  You can help them think more deeply about the text by asking some “wh” questions, for example: “why do you think the character felt that way,” “when did they begin to feel uneasy about a situation,” “what do you think is happening in this part of the story,” etc.  As they become more sophisticated readers, you can up your level of questions, continuing to stretch their thinking while reading. Clearly you would use this approach when you think your grandchild is “in the mood” for a back-and-forth conversation!

Of course, sometimes a specific “approach” is not needed at all, and you and your grand just want to cuddle and read a beautiful story! This, too, is a wonderful way to help with their growth in literacy, and, to create those special connections with our grands that we’ve discussed in this blog as being so important. Those special moments of just sharing a book mean so much! 

Do you have special ways or times you like to read to your grandchild? Have you noticed a change in how they interact with you while reading as they've gotten older? Do you have any must-read book recommendations for other grandparents?

a grandmother pushes four young children in a large swing, outdoors
Cheryl Beaudoin

Hi, I’m Cheryl: grandmother, retired Kindergarten teacher, longtime friend (and current Board member) of the Discovery Museum—and now, blogger!  As a grandparent, I try to apply what I learned as a teacher about children and their development to strengthen my relationships with my grandchildren and bring them joy. My hope for this blog is to engage with other grandparents in the Museum community to collect and share stories and ideas about the joys—and challenges—of grandparenting, and how we can connect and deepen our relationships with our grandchildren. Please join me in this wonderful journey we are on—I look forward to hearing from you! Use the comment box at the bottom of any blog post or email me at


Add new comment