COVID-19 has been a thorn in many of our sides, causing many of us to lose jobs and forcing us to become what I call “parent-teachers.” Thank God, I do have a background in teaching, and I was able to step in and become that “parent-teacher.” But for many parents, this is definitely not the case. For several reasons despite my background in teaching, I found/find it very hard to teach my own children compared to teaching other children. But, we got through this last quarter of school, and I’m looking forward to the upcoming school year.

Photo by nappy from Pexels
Photo by nappy from Pexels

It is not new information that children from Black and Brown homes struggle in academics, particularly in reading at higher levels than their non-minority peers. This should be a serious concern with all educational stakeholders, especially us “parent-teachers,” with the understanding that this could cause a major setback with our own children during this pandemic. For many of us who have this concern, you are also probably wondering what you can do so that your child/children can stay afloat in their academics, especially in reading. No worries! I have five great recommendations of what can be done at home without spending one cent.

  1. Turn on Closed Caption Mode on TVs, video games, and other electronics

Closed Caption Mode was developed to assist those with hearing difficulties to enjoy watching their favorite shows. But, I find it to be useful for also aiding children with their reading skills. This tool is actually available at our fingertips. It’s amazing to know how much time is spent on reading the words rather than watching what’s on the screen. I also use the closed caption mode for my 6-year-old autistic son while watching videos on his tablet to increase speech and language development.

  1. Recipes

We all love a good recipe. For children, a good recipe probably is some kind of dessert, of course. This is quite okay and can be rewarding by having them read aloud the instructions of a recipe of choice and assisting them in preparing it. How fun and addictive this can become!!! There’s a possibility you may have the next master chef in your home with mad reading skills, of course.

  1. Junk Mail

As a child, I was very curious about what my parents were reading when they opened their mail. Some children share this same curiosity, and when you see it as a parent, pull out the junk mail. Just keep a few pieces around, because if you’re like me, most of this mail doesn’t make it in the house. Who would have known that there’s actually a purpose for junk mail?

  1. Labeling Items

Do you remember the scene from “The Color Purple” when Celie wanted to learn how to read? Yes, Nettie labeled items around the house; they read them daily. Many years later, this strategy still works. And, you can begin doing this in the early years of a child’s life to help with the 30-million-word gap that occurs with Black and Brown children.

  1. Instructions

Everything we buy comes with instructions. Depending on what the item is determines if we will read them. Sometimes, we don’t read them, because the print is so small. Here’s another great idea to involve our children in reading. Put their young eyes to work.

So, here are 5 ways you can get your children reading at home without spending one cent. If you have other ideas, please share them with us at socialbridgesinc@gmail or leave a comment below. For educational consulting, literacy coaching, small business setup, non-profit setup, dissertation coaching, and family educational guidance contact Dr. Z. at

Thanks so much for reading!!!

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photo credit: pennstatenews African American family via photopin (license)

photo credit: cheriejoyful The Library 7 via photopin (license)

Dr. Zwila Martinez

14 thoughts on “5 Ways to Include Reading Activities at Home without Spending One Cent!!!

  1. Awesome advice! There are also read aloud videos on YouTube where the child can see the book, follow along as well as listen to the story. There are many books available for all ages and grade levels. Some are even animated.

  2. Dr. Z, this a very useful information that any parent can use to assist their children to enjoy reading! Thank you for reminding us to use recipes, closed captioning, junk mail, and labeling for teaching literacy daily. Keep up the good work!

  3. Five low budget activities that can be done at home, thanks Dr. Z for helping to make literacy fun and cheap!

  4. Excellent suggestions and advice for families as kids get back to school. Whether virtually or in the classroom- Dr. Z’s recommended no cost guidance will enable this generation to succeed and excel so that no child is left behind.
    Thanks Dr. Z,
    You’re the Best!
    Are you available for hire for families or grants that can pay for one-on-one assistance?
    We pray 🙏🙏🙏 in these times that our young people can and will succeed. Bless You!

  5. Parents and teachers are searching for practical ways to provide academic support while building life skills. Great article Doc!

  6. Dr. Burks, these are excellent and practical tips. Thanks for letting everyone know that teaching your own children was not as easy as teaching other people’s children. This may help parents to become aware of the role that “their own emotions” play in their child’s educational challenges and successes.

  7. During these unprecedented times, help is closer than we think. Utilizing your inexpensive, effective strategies can positively change the literacy trajectory for marginalized students. Keep the information flowing Dr. Z, let’s get lit!

  8. I thoroughly enjoyed your advice. You have sparked an interest in me to search for opportunities to read for free. A mail order catalog comes to mind at this time as another example, especially if the incentive is a special toy. I look forward to your future blogs.

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