You have been there every step of the way when it comes to your child’s development. From learning to walk to potty training, the one constant has been the encouragement that a child receives from their parent. A big step academically is learning to read, and while childhood education in school setting is importing, having a supportive parent can give them that extra push they need. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis said it best, “There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.” In this article we’ve provided some tips to help nurture your child’s appreciation of books and a love of reading.
1. Set up an area of the bookshelf just for their books
Children love having their own version of something “grown up”. A bookshelf located in your child’s room with their own books is likely to get them more excited about reading. Not only will they be able to reach books anytime they like without having to ask, it will demonstrate that your family values books and reading.
2. Let your children pick out their own books
When you do go book shopping, take your children with you and have them spend some time in the children’s area. Children want to “do it themselves” and letting them choose their own books gives them a sense of independence and can ignite some passion about reading.
3. Have daily read-aloud sessions
Schedule regular times to have your child read aloud to you so that you can pin point words they might be having trouble with. If there are certain sounds they need help with, try breaking it down for them on flashcards.
4. Make sure to point out words when reading them aloud
Another way to show them how certain sounds are pronounced is to take turns reading. Perhaps you read one sentence and then have them read the same sentence after you. When it is your turn to read, have them sit next to you and follow along. As you read a passage make sure to point at the words as you are reading them – sort of like karaoke. This will help your child associate how words should be spoken with how they are written.
5. Make reading fun
Come up with ways to make reading interactive and entertaining. Take turns reading a bedtime story and when it is your turn to read, exaggerate the words and even add in hand gestures. You can even assign different voices to different characters within the stories. Listening to you bring the characters to life will help your child visualize the story and engage their imagination!
6. Set goals and reward reading
Set goals for reading such as one book a week. If these goals are met, reward this prowess with more reading options. Once a book is finished, pop into a bookstore and let them choose another one. These incentives are sure to keep them interested.
7. Let your child see you reading
Children view you as their most important role models and they pay close attention to what you do. If your child sees you reading books, newspapers and magazines they will understand that literature is part of our everyday lives – a source of education as well as a relaxing pastime.
8. On the go reading
In this day and age it is extremely common for children to use iPads or other devices for amusement on long road trips, or even short drives to school. To help limit their time on such devices, keep a set of their favorite books in the car. Interactive books that incorporate sound, touch or require some type of participation can be especially entertaining.
The American Academy of Pediatrics performed a study, which proved that reading to children helped with brain development. Children as young as 6 months old start interacting with books, and by 15 months they are usually able to point out pictures that they are attracted to. The relationship between a parent and their child can be assessed by simply observing how comfortable a child is reading with their mother or father. When a parent is able to get their child excited about reading they have most certainly helped put them on a path for better brain development. Ralph Emerson phrased the way reading affects a person’s intellect perfectly by saying “If we encounter a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads.”