Author Anne Fishel, Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology at Harvard Medical School, says that dinner conversation with your kids makes them better readers, and may even be more effective than reading them bedtime stories.
Dinner talk increases vocabulary. Rarely used words are far more likely to show up in conversation around the table than in a storybook. Kids can understand words they don’t know through context and children with well-developed vocabularies learn to read more easily. They benefit from telling stories as much as from listening to them. Do you have trouble getting your child to talk? How many times have you had the “nothing happened at school” conversation? Ms. Fishel gives pointers on how to encourage your child to have long, meaningful conversations.
I have had many conversations, although not around the dinner table, with middle grade students about slavery and the Underground Railroad when presenting my book, Dark Enough to See the Stars. Historical novels can be great conversation starters for kids. Fiction helps the reader experience the story and makes learning history exciting. Try sharing a historical novel around the dinner table and see what happens.