Literacy activities at home can have a great impact on children's success at school. Highlights magazine is an ideal way to integrate literacy into home life in a fun, motivating, and manageable way. The wide range of activities and features allows children to find content that interests them and that they can do successfully on their own.
The Parent-Teacher Guide at the bottom of the table of contents provides a guide for reading levels. Although children should be encouraged to self-select their own reading material, helping children find text that they can read may make reading a more enjoyable experience for them. If children are drawn to content that is beyond their reading level, encourage them just the same. Even if they can't read most of the text, they may enjoy or learn something from the photos or captions.
Although there are many factors that affect reading level, including interest in a topic, you may wish to use the following as a guide to help match your child to magazine features: Early (red star): ages 5-7; Moderate (blue diamond): ages 7-9; Advanced (purple square): ages 9-12.
The Editor in Chief of the magazine writes a letter to readers every month. This feature is found on page 4 of each issue. You may wish to read this letter with or to your child.
There are many ways that you can encourage your child to read and enjoy the magazine. For example, you may wish to use the magazine as a reward after your child finishes a task or as something to read before bedtime.Find out more
Reading aloud has many benefits. It's a wonderful way to encourage literacy through sharing the reading experience. It is also a way to help your child enjoy articles and stories that may be too difficult for him or her to read alone. Encourage older siblings to read to younger siblings.
Reading aloud is more engaging when you make the experience interactive. For example, ask your child to look at the pictures and guess what the story is going to be about, take turns reading passages aloud, and ask questions about the story, such as "How do you think the boy is feeling?"
If children see you reading, they are more likely to become readers. Give children an opportunity to see you reading the newspaper, a magazine, a book, a recipe, directions, and so on. Tell them about interesting things that you've read about.
How to Fit Reading into a Busy Day
Sometimes it's easier to fit reading into the daily routine if a special time is set aside for it, such as after dinner or before bedtime. Also, look for opportunities such as long car or train rides, vacations, library visits, and rainy days. If possible, make reading a family activity.
There is a strong connection between reading and writing. Highlights provides lots of opportunities for children to send their writing to the magazine. In the table of contents, these features can be found in the section called Fun Things from You.
To help your child submit a piece of writing, follow the directions at the end of the feature. Since not all submissions can be published by Highlights, "publish" or display your child's work at home. You might also encourage him or her to create a magazine by writing or drawing content and by asking friends and family members to share features such as jokes, riddles, and stories.
Several features appear every month in the magazine. Many children look forward to their favorites (and some of the features may have been your favorites as a child). Here are some ways you can support and encourage your child as he or she enjoys these monthly features. The Web icon (black arrow) in the Parent-Teacher Guide at the bottom of the table of contents shows which features have an interactive version on HighlightsKids.com.
Fun This Month
- This page always includes a numbered list of different things to do. Read the list aloud, and ask your child which activities he or she might enjoy doing. Talk about how other family members could get involved.
- Take turns saying the Tongue Twister three times fast. Encourage your child to make up a tongue twister starting with the first letter or sound in his or her name.
- Try to guess what the image is in the Mystery Photo. Encourage your child to take his or her own mystery photos around the house or neighborhood and ask family members to try to guess what the objects are.
Fun to Read
Goofus and Gallant®
- Talk about the topics in Goofus and Gallant and how each boy chooses to behave. Discuss whether your child has had a similar experience and how he or she handled it.
- When your child does something kind or thoughtful, compliment him or her for behaving like Gallant. When your child does something that is not thoughtful, ask him or her how Gallant might act in that situation.
- Encourage your child to draw Goofus and Gallant pictures showing examples of your child's own behavior.
Read the Gallant Kids feature, and discuss the featured child's actions with your own child. Ask your child what he or she might like to do to help others.
Your Best Self
- With your child, read the feature Your Best Self. Talk about when your child has shown his or her "best self," and have your child draw a picture of it.
- On a chart, keep track of when your child has shown his or her "best self." Each time something is added to the list, have your child add a sticker to the chart. After he or she has added ten stickers, reward your child with something special, such as a favorite activity or treat.
- Read the Ask Arizona story to your child, or take turns reading parts aloud to each other. Talk about whether your child thinks that Arizona did a good job of answering the question. Does your child have other ideas for answering the question? Is the problem something he or she has experienced?
- Ask your child what question he or she would ask Arizona. Brainstorm some solutions. If your child would be OK with it, involve other family members.
- Encourage your child to share an idea for a story question in the "If You Could Ask Arizona" area of The Arizona Zone on HighlightsKids.com.
- Cover the captions, then have your child write new captions or tell a story to go with the pictures.
- Encourage your child to create his or her own Timbertoes story.
- Print a Timbertoes story from HighlightsKids.com, then cut out the pictures and challenge your child to put them in order.
Fun to Do
- Help your child to learn the names of objects that he or she isn't familiar with. Look for pictures of these items in books, magazines, or on the Web.
- Give your child clues for finding hidden objects that are stumping him or her, or look at the answers together on HighlightsKids.com.
- Have your child select a craft, then help him or her read the directions, gather supplies, and do the activity.
- Talk about holidays, birthdays, and other special occasions that are coming up. Encourage your child to make a craft that could serve as a gift for a family member.
- Find more crafts on HighlightsKids.com.
- Help your child select a science feature that interests him or her. Read it aloud or take turns reading. Encourage your child to share what he or she learned with other family members.
- If your child shows special interest in a topic, help him or her find more information about that topic on the Web or at the library.
- Encourage your child to send a science question to Highlights.
- Take turns asking and answering the questions with your child. Encourage conversations about different topics that arise.
- Look closely at the picture together, and ask your child more questions about it. Have your child ask you some questions.
- Take turns answering the questions and discussing possible answers. (Explain that many of the questions don't have right or wrong answers; they are simply meant to make people think.)
- Have your child choose a question to ask other family members at the dinner table, in the car, or during another time together.
- Ask your child if he or she would like to do the activity alone or with you (or another family member). When sharing the puzzle with a group, each person can take turns solving parts of the puzzle.
- If your child gets stumped, offer to help. If you get stumped, let your child help you.
Fun Things from You
The Fun Things from You section of the table of contents includes various opportunities for children to send their work to the magazine. See which features interest your child, then encourage him or her to create something. Display it at home, or follow the directions on the feature page to mail it to Highlights. Some of the features include:
- Your Own Pages (poems and drawings)
- Dear Highlights