When your child learns to read, it will become a skill which enhances every part of their lives. Whether they begin to read voraciously for pleasure, use reading as a door to specific interests, or become interested in news and current events, reading will be an integral part of their lives as they move toward adulthood. How can you foster an early love for reading that will set the tone for their older years?
Get excited. When you play with trucks, you make enthusiastic zooming sounds. When you have a tea party, you show your hearty appreciation for the pretend tea and snacks being served. When you read to your child, you can show the same exuberance, coming up with funny and dramatic voices for the characters in the book, building suspense with your voice, and cheering with surprise along with your child. Making reading exciting is part of every child’s journey to literacy.
Read everyday. Reading should be an activity your child is accustomed to participating in on a daily basis. The most eager young readers pick up books everyday and read enthusiastically, but before your child can actually read on her own, you need to pave the way for them by setting aside time everyday, whether at bedtime, after dinner, or during playtime, to read books together.
Model reading. Children love to participate in any activity they think their parents are interested in, from helping you cook to pretending to clean with you, or even trying to figure out the intricacies of your smartphone. Make sure that your kids see you reading on your own on a regular basis. One parent we knew put aside her Kindle for physical books for a few years when her kids were young, so that they could see her physically turning the pages and engaging in a book that resembled the ones in their bookshelves.
Find your child’s interests. Does your child love dinosaurs? Then fill her shelves with books about dinsoaurs! Does your little one have a fascination with nature? Then seek out books that celebrate the natural world. Just as you gravitate toward books that are relevant to your own personal interests, you can engage your child in the act of reading by supplying her with books that tap into the things she is naturally interested in.
Ask questions. When you read to your child, be sure to help your child interact with the book by asking him questions about what is happening on the page. It’s easy for reading to become a passive act with your child when he hasn’t yet begun to sound out words, so direct him to other elements on the page which might interest him. You can ask him what he thinks a character is feeling based on the character’s facial expressions. You can ask him if he can spot different animals on the page, or ask him where he thinks a particular character has gone. This will allow him to take a more active role in reading his book!
How have you fostered a love for reading in your child? Let us know in the comments section!