5 Ways to Encourage Your Kids to Read
It cannot be emphasized enough - reading is important to children's growth and development. Reading stimulates imaginations, and helps with cognitive development and language skills. Kids learn new words to expand their vocabulary, and are more able to concentrate. Reading also helps kids develop their emotional capacity; through books and literature, they are taught empathy, understanding, and how to look at new perspectives.
The list of benefits goes on and on, but the fact is undisputed: reading rules! And the more reading, the better! So what can you do to encourage your child to read?
Read a book together every night
Routine, as we discussed previously on this blog, helps give the feeling of structure and stability. As part of your daily routine, add in reading with your child for 15 to 20 minutes throughout the day--perhaps right before bed. Read out loud, and point to the words as you say them to help your child learn the connection between written and spoken words. As they grow older, encourage them to read out loud to you, and patiently help guide them through unknown words and concepts. Reading together will also be a great way to bond with your child--and they will associate the happy feelings of being with you to reading in general!
As your child reads with you, or they read by themselves, they may come across words, concepts, or places they may not know or understand. For some, this may be discouraging or intimidating. Try to dispel these fears by encouraging them to ask questions, and do your best to answer them!
Be an example
Kids constantly watch their parents for clues on how to act, and often mimic them. Use this to your advantage and show how much you love reading yourself! Let them see you read for fun, so they don’t feel like reading is a “chore”.
Variety is key
When picking out books for your child to read, try to choose a variety of different stories and topics. Nonfiction or fiction, fantasy or sci-fi, train books or animal books-- mix up what you’re reading so your child can be exposed to many new things. However, if they end up loving a certain type of book, don’t be afraid to hop on that wagon--whatever will help them enjoy reading is a plus!
Help make the story come alive
After your child reads a book, see what you can do to enhance their experience. If the book has been made into a movie, cuddle up and watch the film together. Discuss the differences between the two versions after. You can also take certain parts of the book and bring them to life--for example, make a special food described in the book, or take a trip to the zoo to view the animals your child learned about. Helping connect fantasy with reality will make the reading experience that much more magical and meaningful.
It is never too early (or late!) to encourage your child to read and introduce them to the new worlds that books can open! Even the youngest readers will enjoy seeing an animal they love in a book come to life at the zoo or in their yard or drawing images from their favorite book in chalk on the driveway. By making connections and helping your child understand new words and ideas, you are building the foundation for a life-long learner. So, what book will you read together today?