When you help your kids to love reading, you provide a gift that will enrich their personal and professional lives for years to come. Even though teachers play an important role, parents are a child’s first teachers. To nurture the love of books, parents should begin reading to their children as soon as possible.
Consider the following tips to help build literacy skills in your child at every stage of development.
How to Help Younger Children Love Reading
- Start by reading to your baby. It’s never too soon to get started. Read to your baby for a few minutes at a time until their attention span grows. Point to the pictures. Use rhymes and songs to teach language skills.
- Continue reading books aloud as your child grows older. Reading to your child is one of the most valuable ways to spend your time together. Make storytime a regular routine before bed or anytime that works with your daily schedule.
- Make reading fun and interactive. Train yourself to read in an animated fashion. Encourage your child to read some passages aloud to you or to their brothers and sisters. Share questions about what you read together or make up your own variations on the story.
- Enlist your child’s teacher as an ally. Develop regular communications with your child’s teacher. Be open to feedback provided. Teachers may spot any areas of weakness in reading skills that you can work to correct before they become serious issues. They can also help recommend titles that your child might enjoy.
- Visit your local library and bookstores. Take your child along to the library and to children’s events at local bookstores. Get them a library card of their own as soon as they’re old enough to do so.
- Encourage your child to write. Giving your child opportunities to write will help reinforce their literacy skills. Leave each other notes on the refrigerator. Write emails and greeting cards together.
How to Help Older Children Love to Read
- Set an example of reading for pleasure. You may need to set an example in your own home to counteract trends that show a general decline in the reading of books. Let your preteens see you reading. Help them develop their critical thinking skills by discussing books as part of everyday conversations.
- Help your teen find time to read. The average teen spends a lot of time on social activities and electronic media. You can set reasonable limits, such as a nighttime curfew on using cell phones and watching TV.
- Build a home library. Keep reading material available around the house. Create a comfortable and inviting space for family members to read. If you don’t have an extra room, you can still set aside a corner of the living room or den.
- Look for books that reflect your teen’s interests. Let your teen pick their own books as long as the titles are age-appropriate. Stay up to date on zombies, werewolves, and other popular trends.
- Integrate reading into fun family activities. If your teen is reading Hamlet in their English class, offer to take them to a live performance. If they enjoy a movie based on a Jane Austen novel, buy them the paperback. Take the opportunity to re-read it yourself so you can discuss it.
- Be realistic. The teen years can be a busy and difficult time. Celebrate any progress you make without exerting so much pressure that your good intentions backfire.
Reading for pleasure broadens the mind and enriches our shared cultural and civic life. You can help your children get off to a good start by learning to love reading. It will help build basic comprehension skills and change their lives for the better.