The written word can be a very powerful thing. It can teach us new things, it can help us understand other people and cultures, and for a short time it can help us live the life of someone else. Reading is a dominating subject in school. Teachers expect students to come to kindergarten with a minimum of 1,000 hours of reading exposure. Once in school children will read, and read, and read some more. Teachers are fiction and nonfiction books alike to teach students about all subjects. Children who do not like reading are now having a difficult time because they are expected to read all the time. There are ways to help instill in your child a love for reading which will help set them up for success in school.
Create a Love for Reading by Exposing Them to Books
This first way to help your child love reading is to simply expose them to books. Soft and board books are wonderful for this since they’re harder to destroy. Show the book to your child. Demonstrate the way to hold the book and how to turn the pages. Then give your child time to experiment with the book. If all they want to do with it is chew on it than that’s fine. The important thing is that they’re interacting with the book. Plus kids like to chew on things, so they’ll have fun doing it. Meaning they’ll see spending time with a book as being an enjoyable experience.
Another way to expose them to books and words is by having printed items all around your house. You want your child to see that you have a lot of printed things. Have lots of books, magazines, and newspapers and make sure that you have them in places that your child will see them and make sure that your child interacts with them every day. It can be as simple as letting your child look at the cereal box while he eats breakfast. It doesn’t matter what type of print they’re interacting with as long as that interaction is there.
Create a Love for Reading by Being a Good Role Model
If you want your children to develop a love for reading than you need to show them that you love reading too. Let your child see you curled up with a book or a magazine. Read the newspaper while they’re sitting at the table doing homework (unless they need your help of course). Show excitement over reading with your child. If reading isn’t your thing than fake it. If your child thinks that you feel that reading is stupid and pointless then they’re likely to take on that attitude too.
Create a Love for Reading with Story Time
The best thing you can do to help your child develop a love for reading is to spend time reading with them. As an added bonus it’s fantastic bonding time. While many parents read with their child right before bed any time of day is a good time, and more than once a day is good too. It is a good idea to make time for it every day though because it gives your child the message that you see that time as an important time because you are making it a priority. A good teacher should reinforce that message by making time for your child to read independently every day.
Story time should change as your child grows in his reading ability. This is a time for you to help strengthen what your child knows as well as a time to help increase your child’s reading ability. If you are having your child read to you than make sure the story is level appropriate. Always follow the five finger rule. If your child struggles with more then five words (one per finger) on a page than the story is above their level. If you’re reading aloud to your child than you should choose a book that is bit above your child’s reading level. This gives your child a chance to hear words that he can’t read and may not normally use. It also helps him understand how sentences should sound. Once your child has a good grasp on reading it’s nice to read together. Growing up my mother and I would take turns reading. She would read a page and then I would read one. The important thing though is to not end reading time once your child can read on their own. Your child can still learn and improve their reading skills by reading with you. When the sad day finally comes that your child has become a reading whiz you can continue reading time by reading your own books in the same location together.
Create a Love for Reading by Giving them Books
The last thing you need to do to get your child to love reading is to give them books! They need to have access to lots of them, and there should be many spots in the house where they’ll find them. In our house there is a basket on the floor of Nick’s room full of books (in fact they now are overflowing the basket), there is a a bottom bookshelf full of them in the play room, and there is also a bottom bookshelf full of them in the hall just outside of the living room. Nick knows where all of these locations are, and all of them are purposefully located in spots where he can reach so that he can easily pull them out and look through them as much as he wants, and he certainly does. There are many nights, after I put Nick to bed, that he’ll get up and get books to look at. Even in the morning I’ve watched him get up, get a book, and “read” it aloud. Giving your child access to books is so important. When they get older you can also take trips to the library where they can have access to more books and can participate in fun reading activities.
Reading is a powerful tool that is so important, but some kids struggle with it and others just don’t care for it. If you start implementing these steps when your child is still young than you can help set them on the right path for a successful life of reading.