In a world full of technological distractions, helping children develop a pure love for reading is proving to be a little tougher than usual. Then again, we parents should never forget that we have the power to create enthusiastic readers in our kids. To help you raise a reader, here are a number of things that will surely help them develop a lifelong interest for reading.
1. Read aloud to your children
It’s not just about telling them a bedtime story so they can go to sleep. When you read aloud to your children, their familiarity with the written language, their knowledge of the world, and their vocabulary expands. To raise a reader, a 20-30 minute read-aloud time just before bedtime is recommended. If you want to know the ins and outs of reading aloud to your children, check out Jim Trelease’s The Read-Aloud Handbook, widely-considered the definitive word on how to read aloud to your children for the past three decades.
2. Take your kids to the library
What other place can you possibly think of that will give your child access to all sorts of reading material? For at least once a week, take your kids to the library and encourage them to look around, find books that would catch their fancy and, if the library has a summer reading program for children of all ages, sign up for it. The library, without a doubt, will help you raise a reader in more ways than one.
3. Make them see you read
A great way to raise a reader is to, well, read the way. By that I mean you should set an example for your kids by having them see you reading at home on a regular basis. It gives them the impression that reading is a priority in the family and that TV and all sorts of electronic distractions are not. If you can, show your kids what you’re reading and explain what it’s all about to them. They will certainly be inspired to try it for themselves.
4. Buy books kids find interesting
As a child, I loved reading those Time-Life historical volumes. Understanding that I am very much fascinated by history, my dad promptly bought more history books for our collection, and that helped him raise a reader in me. Now I’m doing the exact same thing with my own kid. It’s really important to know what interests your children, which books they have already finished, and which books they would most like to have. When you buy books kids find interesting, they are more likely to read the material through and through.
5. Encourage your child to carry reading material everywhere
While standing together with your kid in a long checkout counter line or waiting to fetch someone at the airport or train station, pull out a book to kill time, and make sure your child sees you do that. Encourage your child to do the same wherever he goes. Instead of those handheld game consoles, let your child carry a paperback, a magazine or an e-book reader at all times to help him while the time away.
6. Buy a good dictionary
It’s but normal for kids—or even adults—to encounter words in a book or magazine that they don’t understand. A good dictionary would certainly come in handy for such moments. You can even make more out of it by discussing with them any word they look up to drum up more interest for words and build their vocabulary.
7. Put book baskets in your home
To effectively raise a reader, a child must have access to a lot of reading material wherever he or she is in the house. This is where book baskets would be very useful. Put one in your kids’ bedrooms, the kitchen, the living room and even in the bathroom. Provide access to books kids find interesting wherever they may be inside the house, and they’ll be more likely to pick any one title up and read as frequently as they can.
8. Create a comfortable reading space for your child.
It is important that your home has a place where your child can read in peace and in all comfort. An ideal reading spot is anywhere that’s far from the TV and where members of the household usually gather. To make reading as comfortable as possible, make sure that your kid’s reading spot has good lighting as well as comfy seats.
9. Let them choose their own material
The problem with some parents is that they tend to force a certain type of book or any other reading material on their kid, regardless of whether the kid is interested in the subject or not. If they like a particular book so much and they want to read it over and over again, just leave them be. You can make suggestions if you want, but it will still be up to your child to decide which ones to read. There are also books kids find interesting that certainly aren’t your type, but never criticize those reading choices.
10. Start a book club with your kid.
One of the most effective ways to raise a reader is to give kids the opportunity to share their reading experiences with other children their age, and the best way to do just that is to form a book club with your child. This will make reading even more fun for them, especially when they do it with their friends. Just make sure that you choose books find interesting as reading materials for the club.
To raise a reader is perhaps one of the best things we can do as parents. Reading, after all, is one of life greatest pleasures, and we’ll give anything for them to find as much enjoyment in it as we do.