We know that reading is one of the biggest predictors of our child’s success in school but what are tangible ways to foster a love of reading in children? Over the years, I’ve learned a few key things that make a huge difference.
Study after study has linked the benefits of reading to children from birth as one of the biggest indicators of their success in school and their own ability to read and comprehend.
Check out this small excerpt from The Child Trends Data Bank, which sites numerous studies showing just how much of an impact reading can have on a child’s neurological development:
“Children develop literacy skills and an awareness of language long before they are able to read. Since language development is fundamental to all areas of learning, skills developed early in life can help set the stage for later school success. By reading aloud to their young children, parents help them acquire the skills they will need to be ready for school. Shared parent-child book reading during children’s preschool years leads to higher reading achievement in elementary school, as well as greater enthusiasm for reading and learning. Young children who are regularly read to have a larger vocabulary, higher levels of phonological, letter name, and sound awareness, and better success at decoding words.
And yet, despite all the studies, we as parents often unintentionally take the joy and wonder out of reading for our children.
HERE ARE EASY, TANGIBLE WAYS TO FOSTER A LOVE OF READING IN KIDS
1. DON’T SWEAT IT IF EVERY PAGE DOESN’T GET READ
With my oldest, I would sit down to read and had these expectations that I needed to read every page and she would patiently wait and turn them with me. (Insert loud laugh here). Ah, the crazy expectations you have with your first born!
Young children don’t care about “reading” every page. The story to them is mainly one they create with pictures so let them skip 5 pages in a row.
You are not reading to them to tell a story necessarily – but to expose them to words, cadence and the fact that books are fun.
2. LET YOUR CHILD READ TO YOU
I used to think that because I COULD read, I should always be the one to read to my girls. My younger daughter set me straight on that. She could sit for an hour just “reading” books to me, to herself, to her baby dolls.
The story was of course non-sense but it was HER story and that was what mattered.
3. DON’T FORCE READING TIME
I know it’s a by-product of keeping records and making sure students are doing their “homework,” but there is nothing like telling your Kindergartener she has to read 3 books a night and then dutifully log them in her book journal to suck the joy right out of reading.
And yet, we have to ensure our children are learning to read. So what’s a good solution?
I love what my daughter’s teacher does...for every 10 books Hannah reads and records in her book journal, she earns a bead. Which she adds on to her necklace. Which since the beginning of the year has just gotten longer and more beautiful. It encourages reading in a positive way so that she isn’t just doing MORE homework.
4. DON’T USE READING AS A PUNISHMENT
Please, for the love of reading, do not get angry at your child and say “Go to your room and read!” You can say go to your room and calm down so we can discuss this later and if reading calms him, then so be it. But don’t make reading THE punishment.
5. READ THEIR FAVORITE BOOK OVER AND OVER
You know that song you love on the radio and you don’t mind hearing it 20 times a day for a few weeks because it’s so catchy and puts you in a good mood and you just love the beat????
Maybe it’s the pictures or the colors or the rhymes.
Or maybe it’s just the way you read it to them. Or the story they make up to go with it.
Either way, these books help extend a toddler’s attention span and build enthusiasm for reading because they know the story word for word.
And last but not least…
6. LET YOUR CHILD SEE YOUR LOVE OF READING
Read books…Read magazines…Read newspapers. Read when you’re relaxing. Read when you have a few spare minutes. Talk about what you are reading. Show your children that you love to read and how it is a natural and integral part of who you are.
Our children learn best – always – by example.
Be a good one…
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