From a young age, a love of reading has been instilled in me; for over 30 years, my dad was the editor of our local newspaper, and my mom has been a librarian at our town’s library. I’ve always thought that there was nothing better than getting sucked into a good Babysitter’s Club book or exploring the next adventure with the Boxcar Children. As a teacher and a mother, I’m passionate about instilling the love of reading into all of the children I know. Reading gives people the ability to learn about places they’ve never been, develop new skills, and travel to worlds that only exist in the pages of a good book.
Here are a few things you can do to grow your little readers:
1. Create a Routine and Read Every Night.
The number one piece of advice I give my students’ parents is – “Read with them nightly!” Make it part of your nightly routine, and your child will not only expect it, they will grow to crave and love it. No matter how busy the day is, I always make time to read with both of my children before bed. I love the fact that I have to cut Lola off after four or five books. Many times we read the same books over and over again, and even though I sometimes feel as though I am going to lose my mind if I have to read “The Going to Bed Book” one more time, I do it because she loves it. Children will choose the books that speak to them emotionally, as well as ones that feed into their interests. Our nightly book routine has become a special time for me to bond with my children and to ask questions not only about the books we are reading, but to share stories from our days.
2. Get a Library Card.
Both of my kids love going to the library. Lola can check out two books since she is two, and I let Cohen choose five. I guide both kids to areas with books that I know they are interested in, and I let them pick. Lately, Cohen has started to show interest in some shorter, easier chapter books. Even though these obviously aren’t at his reading level, I’m still exposing him to texts that interest him, which helps build his imagination. Reading books aloud to your children will help them develop language and listening skills and prepares them to understand the written word. As the mom of a soon to be kindergartener, I know that this is a skill that is extremely important!
3. Make Reading Fun.
I hate when parents tell me that when their child is in trouble they send them to their room to read. Don’t associate negative feelings with reading. Instead, tap into your child’s interests and find books within their realm to encourage more reading. Maybe they love sports; check out biographies about their favorite athletes. If you have a princess lover in the family, pick fairy tales and fables. But whatever you do, don’t make reading a chore.
4. Don’t Substitute Technology for the Real Thing.
Yes, there are literacy apps and computer programs to help your child with the reading process. However, technology is supposed to enhance the reading process, not replace it. When it comes to developing a love for reading, stow away that iPad, and pull out a book. It’s our job as parents to develop and foster a love for reading in our children.