When I was a child I told my mother I would never learn to read. After all, what did I need to learn to read for? I had all these people who would read to me, books on tape, and even television. There was no need to learn how to read. My younger brother was the same. He, after all, was going to be a professional fisherman. What did he need to learn to read for? Thankfully we both outgrew that stage and through support from our parents we both learned to love to read. Here are some tips to help your children to learn the love of reading also:
1. Start Out Small – One of the first things I tell parents is not to be too ambitious with your young readers. Not every child will want to or be able to sit down and read the Hobbit. That does not mean they can’t enjoy reading. If you have a reluctant reader, try to start out small. Comic books and illustrated children’s books work well to introduce kids to the joy of reading. As children read they can also improve their vocabulary and reading skills so that they can actually enjoy the bigger books. Do not worry if your children are not reading ‘quality’ books. Even magazines and comic books can help a child learn how to read and enjoy it. Then you can work your way up to bigger and better things.
2. Try New Things – It is not always about providing good books to your kids but more importantly it is about providing a variety of good books for your children. Many children do not have the same taste in literature as their parents. Although you might love the works of Mark Twain or Jane Austen your child might like something completely different. Off to take your child to the library and check out a bunch of different books to see what interests them. I was a big science fiction and fantasy person as a child, but my brother preferred books about cars, trains and animals. No matter what kind of reading your child likes to do encourage them in it. You can always discuss what is real versus what is make believe for children who are more fanciful, or you can inspire more serious children into thoughts like what could happen if cars could talk or trains could fly.
3. Make It Fun – Above all, reading time should be a fun time. No one would want to read if it was used as a punishment or chore that had to be done every day. I remember hating having to read the books that were assigned in my English classes as a child, and only now can I go reread those books and discover that they were not so bad. Instead of making reading a homework assignment, try to treat it ore like game time or television time. It is something to look forward to and a fun part of your children’s day.
4. Offer Quiet Time – Reading is a lost art with many families because we all get so caught up in the noise and business of our lives. Making quiet time a part of everyday life is a great idea and not just because it helps children to read. Turning off the technology and noise and playing or reading in silence helps children to learn how to concentrate and entertain themselves. It also helps them to develop their imaginations. Setting aside thirty minutes of quiet reading or play time every day helps to make reading a habit that will last a lifetime.
5. Practice Visualization – Another way to help children to enjoy reading is to talk to them about their visualization skills. When I read I can see the action happening in my mind like a movie. Because of this I enjoy reading much more than someone who just sees the words. Help your children to learn this important skill by practicing it together. Sit down and try to visualize a person, place or thing you are both familiar with. Have your child shut their eyes and describe it to you. It can be something as simple as a baseball. “It is round and white and has red lines on it and it feels smooth mostly and it smells like leather…” By having children exercise their visualization skills they can apply that to their reading and enjoy it far more. It also will help them later on in life with picturing events and stories that people tell. It can even help them learn to follow direction better!
6. Make Up Stories – Stories are the foundation of reading. Even nonfiction books have stories in them. Help your child to enjoy reading more by making up their own stories. They can tell you the stories verbally or write them down. They can even create their own books to share. By practicing the art of storytelling children can understand the power of books and how much fun it is to read other people’s stories.
7. Read To Your Children – Even before a child is old enough to read they can still form a love of reading and books. By reading to your children you can show them how entertaining a book can be. Making story time a part of everyday helps to form a connection with your child to books. Start out with short books and then move into larger novels for children. Stories that are time tested like The Secret Garden and Treasure Island can help your children to follow chapter after chapter of a book without getting lost. The love of reading comes long before a child can read one word and stays with them for a lifetime. As children get older you can still share story time with them. They can read to you or their younger siblings and improve their skills in reading aloud even as they share their love of books.
8. Show By Example – Like reading to your children, just reading yourself sets a good example for them. I know a family who turns off the television and sit around as a group to read instead. Sometimes they all read the same book but other times they read different books in the same genre. By discussing their books and sharing new vocabulary words they have read or interesting information they all learn new things. When Lincoln came out in theaters the family decided to read nonfiction books about that President. Each child had a book suitable to their grade level and they found out many interesting facts about the famous man. By sharing their love of reading with their children, this family has given their children a step up in their education.
9. Connect With Things They Like – Last but not least, you can help your children to love reading if you connect the reading with things they already love. If a child loves to cook or eat you can get a book on exotic foods or a cookbook with information as well as recipes. If a child loves superhero’s you can find a novel about them or if they love cars you can find a book that shows how they work. There are even books based on television shows like Ninja Turtles or ones on dolls like Barbie. From dinosaurs to puppies, there are books that have fiction and nonfiction accounts that may interest your child. I remember that I loved the Disney movie Swiss Family Robinson and so I read the novel even when it was hard for me. By connecting books with things your children already love to spend their time on you can encourage them to love reading just as much or more. You can even agree that they have to finish a book before you go see the movie version so that they can compare and contrast the two. Series like Percy Jackson and Hunger Games can inspire kids to read the novels behind the movies.
Helping your children to love reading is a great goal for any parent. Reading helps children in school and in life. A good reading can complete work faster, has a bigger imagination and can understand things more quickly than a non-reading peer. Even reading on computers or e-readers is fine, as long as they are reading! With these simple tips you can cultivate a love of reading in your children that will last a lifetime.
This article was contributed by Christine Maddox. Currently she is pursuing her Master’s degree from University of Texas as well as blogging for 4 Nannies. She loves to write anything related to parenting, kids, nanny care etc. She can be reached via email at: christine.4nannies[at]gmail.com
“Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”