I’ve had quite a few people tell me that their “kids simply aren’t interested in books” and that they’ll “let the teachers drive the reading agenda”, so I’ve tried to put together a quick cheat sheet of how you can get your little ones reading more or at least being interested in reading.
1. Read to Me! (Or Read With Me!)
Coincidentally, this is this term’s theme at my son’s school. Having being read to, helps to open up a new world for kids. Whether it’s reading newspaper articles together to escaping in fictional fairy-tales, at a table or snuggled under a blanket, one of the biggest motivators in reading is being read to!
TIP: Make sure to really be in the moment with your child. Put your phone/tablet away and involve yourself in the item/story
2. Talk About What You Read
After you have finished a story/article/pamphlet etc, talk to your child about what you have just read…about your favourite parts…or even act out or have turns creating “what happens next” to the characters. If a related event happens, talk about how it relates to the book. (Eg, if the book was about the sea, and you are going to the sea, talk about the creatures/nature that you read about in the book and show it to your child).
Even if you are reading your own book, tell your child what it is about – to show that you also have a love for reading
3. Show Your Love For Reading
Let your child see you reading as often as possible. Show him/her that you enjoy reading and because you enjoy it, you want to do it. Your pre-schooler’s desire to imitate is extremely powerful, so this is another way to make him/her feel that reading really is fun—and worth pursuing
4. Allow Your Child to Choose
Select several different books your child might like, and then let him pick which one he wants you to read to him next. Make sure you provide a wide variety of options in terms of content (eg, themes, non-fiction vs fiction), style of writing (rhyming) and material (books, magazines, listen & follow tapes (or cds) etc) to choose from. He’ll be more excited and engaged if he has a real choice about what to read.
TIP 1: Do not force what you think will be enjoyable onto your child. Like you and I, it’s quite difficult to keep reading a book if it doesn’t sit well with you. The last thing you want is to discourage reading because of unfit books.
TIP 2: Keep an eye out on the age suitability range. It is okay to read from a level up (eg, if you child is 3 but interested in an age 4 book) as this stretches them a bit, but be mindful of themes of too mature themes/writing styles.
5. Do Not be Discouraged When Reading the Same Book Over and Over Again
It may seem so tedious to you, but re-reading the same book every day, is perfectly normal. In fact, research shows (Click here for research link) that
- Toddlers and preschoolers learned and recalled MORE new words when the same book was repeatedly read to them.
- They also learned the words at a faster rate
So instead of rolling your eyes and saying “Aw crap, not that caterpillar book again” (in your head of course!), grin and try to act as excited about it as they are.
6. Surround Yourselves with Books
Create a sense of joy around reading by giving books as special gifts. Build excitement around trips to the bookstore or library. Treat reading like a fantastic adventure that nobody would want to miss out on! Create your kid’s own bookshelf so that he/she has a sense of ownership and something they can be proud of. Leave other reading material as accessible as possible to show that it isn’t meant to be out of reach, and should be welcomed to be open/used at any time. (Just don’t leave your Mills and Boon or 50 Shades lying around 🙂 )
7. Link Reading to Writing
As you read, make connections between reading stories and writing text. Help your child notice that we read from left to right, for example. Point out how words are separated by spaces. And make these connections outside story time, too. Point out the written words you see in the world around you. Ask your child to find a new word each time you go out.
TIP: Keep pencils, pens, crayons or colour pencils nearby – a few people have mentioned that there is a link between writing/drawing creativity and reading, which when use together stimulates faster development, however I have not found research to prove this. there is no harm in trying it out though!
8. Make Time for Reading
Reading shouldn’t be something that we squeeze in so that we can tick of the things to do list. If it is done in this way, it wont seem like a meaningful experience. Ensure that there is time allocated to reading everyday, which can enable you to highlight the importance of reading and build a habit in the household.
I really hope that this has helped in some way. Even starting off with one point a week/month will help foster a love for reading. If you have any tips to share, I’d love to hear them!
Sources: Reading Rockets, Jessica Snyder 2002 Understood.org, School and Learning