As a teacher, I hear from parents all thre time that they just can’t get their kids interested in books. I also often hear the moans and grumbles that erupt within my classroom when reading is assigned. Some kids just hate reading whether it be for pleasure or for learning. So what are the key steps to develop a love of reading in your child? I have put together a list of things that will help encourage your child to pick up a book….
1. Start young – Get them while they are young! Even as infants have books around and read to your children. Show them pictures in books or read them a story. Kids will love looking at the pictures, feeling different textures and even flipping pages. Starting to integrate books into their life early can help make books a normal part of their life associated with great memories.
2. Do it together – Depending on the age of your child either read to them or have them read a book to you. Having an older child read out loud can help slow down fast readers who tend to skip through readings, which can help to increase their reading comprehension. It can also help kids practice their pronunciation of words so that they aren’t so nervous when their teacher picks on them to read in class. Younger kids will enjoy spending some one on one time with you. Make a special time, perhaps before bed or before you leave for work in the morning where you sit down with your child and read a good book together. Little ones like feeling special and this designated quality time will help make reading special.
3. Make it fun – Remember that teacher from Charlie Brown? Wa, wa, wa. No one wants to listen to a boring monotone story. Give different characters, different voices, read the story in a sing song voice or have stuffed animals read or act out the story for your child. My son loved when we would read “5 little monkeys” and use a stuffed monkey and pretend it was jumping on a bed. Find a way to make the story relevant and exciting to your child.
4. Let them choose – Give your child some choice and let them pick out their own book, whether it be from the bookstore, the library or your very own bookshelf. Adding an element of choice will make the experience more exciting for them. Also don’t refuse to read a book because you don’t like it. If your child wants you to read them “A Very Hungry Catepillar” for the thousandth time, recognize that they love the book and put your own needs aside. Remember your trying to get THEM to love reading. When it comes to older kids, remember reading is reading no matter what the medium may be. If your child hates novels but prefers magazines, reading blogs on the Internet or reading the comics in the newspaper, remember these sources of written material have a place and could be a good way to hold your child’s interest.
5. Make it easy– Ever hear the saying “out of sight out of mind”? I always have books somewhere that my kids can pick them up themselves whenever they get curious. If books are placed on a shelf up high or tucked away in a closet, kids will be less likely to look for them. Find a spot for them in plain view. When you see your child pick out a book to read give them praise, or ask them about the story they are reading(this is great for building reading comprehension in older kids).
Remember that it is recommended that children read or are read to daily for about 30 minutes. You will be surprised how quickly the time passes by and that eventually your little one will ask for “one more story”. So go grab a book and read with your little one.