How do you encourage children to read books?
A good recipe for inculcating a love for reading in children is one part consistency, a dash of discipline and large amounts of love! It’s a process that involves the whole family and should be enjoyed by all.
We suggest adding these steps to your ‘recipe’ mix to sow good reading habits in your children.
- Tip #1 Make Reading Fun
A good book is a great start to develop a child’s cognitive skills and they don’t always have to be pieces of paper bound to a cover. Try swapping a traditional book for an audiobook from time to time. According to Elissa Mostransky, a reading specialist at West Babylon School District in New York in a Parents online article, children learn fluency in language as they hear words being audibly spoken. Think of it as storytime with an imaginary friend.
Another way to make reading fun for your older readers is to get a headlamp. Staying up “past bedtime” would help remind them that reading is a privilege and a treat!
It is also best to avoid forcing children to read as it often takes the fun out of it. Once it’s being forced, the child may look at it as a chore… A very boring chore.
- Tip #2 Don’t Just Say It, Model It
It’s easy to put a book in your little one’s lap and ask them to read. But if they don’t see it being modeled in their daily life, it will not be as effective in shaping them to be avid readers. Children often mimic their parents, adults or the environment they are in. So, make reading an enjoyable habit, talk about the book or the story and help your child see how much of a joy books can be!
- Tip #3 A Cosy Reading Nook
Do you have a reading corner at home? If you don’t, try one. The reading corner doesn’t have to take up much space at home. It can be a comfortable little chair draped in a blanket. Or a tiny space by the window. Make it look inviting. Encourage your young one to become an avid reader by giving them a space where they can enjoy a variety of books at their own pace.
- Tip #4 Themed Reading Corner? Always Fun!
Children, in their active little minds, enjoy using their imagination! Encourage them to ‘read by the beach’ by laying a towel on the ground and propping an umbrella by the side. If ‘reading in a castle’ sounds much more appealing to the child, perhaps drape a blanket over two chairs and bring a flashlight to make a comfortable reading fort. Create a fantasy environment that introduces an exciting element to the experience.
- Tip #5 Read the Book, then Watch the Movie
There are many children’s books that have been turned into movies. Another way to sow a love for reading and motivate reluctant young readers, is to host a fun movie night with the film version once you and your little reader are finished with the pages. Don’t forget to talk about the different versions of the stories with your child and ask them questions such as “Was the film character how you imagined them to be?” or “Did this scene play out the way you thought it would?” Having a light discussion on the different interpretations of the story also encourages critical thinking in children.
- Tip #6 Read Aloud, It Always Helps
How do you spark a love for reading? Much like storytelling, Dr. Nancy Carlsson-Paige, a professor of early childhood education at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts and author of Taking Back Childhood, says reading a story aloud (even when the child doesn’t need it) is beneficial both educationally and socially. Think of your child, sitting on your lap while listening to a great story! They can also take a break and rest while still listening to a story they really love.
- Tip #7 Reading in Rhymes
Are there specific types of books that help with reading and development? Dr. Carlsson-Paige suggests books with rhymes. They are especially beneficial as rhyming words helps the child recognise repetition and sounds. In other words, they develop phonetic awareness through reading. It also helps when a child can anticipate the word that comes next and chime in on the story. Spark a love for reading through this fun and interactive activity.
- Tip #8 Book and Bake
Have you tried reading a recipe book? It requires much concentration and focus as they are intentionally instructional, improving comprehension. Choose a simple recipe that both you and your child can bake (or cook) and ask them to read the instructions aloud. Whether it’s preparing the ingredients or kneading the dough, be sure to switch the roles between recipe reader and baker to keep them engaged!
Finally, always remember to…
- Tip #9 Ask questions
Dr. Carlsson-Paige also encourages parents to always ‘check-in’ on a child’s understanding of the story, instead of simply focusing on the sound or letter of each word. Gauging the child’s understanding of the story enhances comprehension and further fuels the reading process! Similar to Tip #5, ask your child which character they liked best, which part of the story was their favourite or even perhaps, what they would do if they were in a similar situation to the character in the story.
We believe these simple tips will make a world of difference in encouraging avid readers!