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  • Writer's pictureGaila Cohen Morrison

Dear Gaila - Easy ways to improve a grandchild's reading (Part I)

Dear Gaila,

My grandchildren live in Israel and are second generation Israelis. Their English is abominable. Their reading and writing almost non-existent. My children don't seem to realize what a loss it is. I don't want to push the issue with them, but are there things I can do as a grandmother to help my grandchildren?

Doting Grandmother

Dear Fellow Grandma!

I can empathize with your problem. I have four married daughters – two of which married non-English speaking, amazing and wonderful young men. Their children's English is not at the level it could be. Their reading lags behind their peers. So what can we Grandmas do to give them that extra edge back? I'll share a few tips and tricks of mine:

1) Research has shown that top readers (90 percentile) read 20 minutes a day. That's all it takes! I have a daily telephone date with my oldest grandson. He reads to me on the phone for ten minutes. Within one mere week his English drastically improved. Now his English is up to peer level.

2) Bribery! Everyone expects grandparents to spoil their grandchildren. Go ahead and spoil them with strings attached! Promise them sweets or prizes for every book read. I promised one of my grandsons a set of "The Magic Treehouse" if he reads daily. (That is a win-win situation – the prize is as reading encouraging as the work.)

3) If you can figure out their favorite books to read, make sure to have them on hand when they come to visit you. You can entice them to start the book by taking turns reading – each of you can read a page.

All of these tips are just as good for parents or teachers who want to encourage a child to read. Consistent small daily doses of reading can do wonders for a child's English vocabulary and reading fluency.

I'll be back next week with more grandmotherly reading ideas.

Happy grandmothering!


Gaila has almost 40 year of experience teaching and runs A.H.A.V.A., a non-profit to promote English literacy. Would you like to ask Gaila a question? Email us at or send us a message. Look out for more Dear Gaila columns

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