Helping Your Child Develop a Love of Reading
By Rachel Wells
Does your child read every day, not because they are asked to, but just for fun? Unfortunately by middle school, most kids would not even consider reading a book as a fun or relaxing activity. That’s why it is so important to form habits of reading in early childhood, so that even when reading is hard work, and there are so many other ways to be entertained, children still reach for a book as an enjoyable activity.
Research has shown that reading to your child, and discussing the book throughout, is the best way to increase your child’s IQ. Regular reading nurtures and helps cultivate a deep love of learning. When your child loves to read, they are more likely to choose to read independently, score higher on school achievement tests, and read just for fun.
Here are some ways you can instill a lifelong love of reading in your child.
Make reading a regular part of your daily routine. Read books each night together before bed, during lunch, after school, when your child wants to cuddle, post tantrum, or as a calm start to the day. If your child no longer naps, try encourage a daily “rest” time where they can relax in their room and read or look at books.
Read Out loud From Day One
Immerse your child in books as early as possible. Books should be some of your child’s first toys. Babies love to look at books, and toddlers can seemingly listen to the same few stories for hours at a time. Habits start to form during these early years, so start right away immersing your child in literature, reading stories together, and talking about the stories too.
Be a Reader Yourself
Set an example, and read often. There is no bigger influence on your child’s behavior then you. If your child sees you reading regularly, it will become engrained in them as a relaxing activity choice.
Leave Books Everywhere
Have designated spots for books in every room of your house. Rotate books for the change of seasons and for special holidays.
Get Library Cards and Visit Regularly
Make it a tradition to head to the library each week. Bring a list of books you may want to check out before you go, read books while you’re there, and be sure to check and see if your local library offers any cool classes.
Include Fiction and Non-Fiction
Be sure to expose your child to different types of literature – fiction, non-fiction, poetry, chapter books, books without words, etc. You never know where your child’s interest are going to lie when it comes to reading, and offering a variety will help them figure out what they enjoy.
Connect Stories to Real Life
Before you even open the book, ask your child about the picture on the cover and try to relate it to them – what do you think this book will be about? Have you ever been someplace similar? How do you think the character feels – have you ever felt the same way?
Another easy way to connect stories to real life is to get books related to your activities. Maybe you went to the zoo and your child really enjoyed seeing a polar bear. Head to the library to get some books about polar bears, and have them available for your child to look at. If your child recently joined a soccer team, bring some cool soccer books home for them to enjoy. Connecting books to the topics your child is passionate about is an easy way to get them reading, and transforms their entire learning experience!
Write Your Own Books
Just like it is important to immerse your child with books, it is also important to immerse your child with opportunities to express themselves through writing and art. Whether it be through journaling or writing mini storybooks, encourage your child to write stories from both their imagination and from their own personal experiences.
You play an integral role in helping your child develop a love of reading. Limit the amount of technology your child uses each day, and add books all around your house. Immerse your child in literature, and enjoy the joy that comes from a good book – together!