Kids who love books will naturally learn to read more quickly. Their internal desire to experience new stories or learn about new topics will motivate them to improve their skills. They’ll grow their comprehension and vocabulary out of the sheer will to read the next book without even realizing what they’re doing.
As a parent, you have the wonderful opportunity to encourage and support this growth. While school may help with the nitty-gritty details, much of your child’s view on books will come from their experience at home.
Aim to make reading an integral and natural part of your daily lives — but something magical rather than mundane. These tips will help you get started to get your child to read.
Be a Role Model
Your kids are more likely to value reading if they see that you do as well. Keep a book close by you and read it as often as possible. Let your children see you choose reading over TV occasionally. Talk about what books you’re currently in. Show your kids how fun a reading lifestyle can be.
Have Books Easily Available
Studies suggest that the mere presence of books in your home can improve your children’s reading abilities and success in the future. Set up a bookshelf in a key location with options for the whole family. Find ways to store a few reading books in every room. Having plenty of options within easy reach will make it easier for your kids to find one they love and will get your child to read.
Make Reading Routine
Having a home filled with books is a great starting point. However, you should also integrate the practice of reading into your daily routines. With a little initial effort, you can make book time as normal as waking up in the morning.
Read to your kids before bed each day, no matter their age. Spend time on a weekend morning with the whole family independently reading. These little habits will add up to a significant chunk of time spent on books.
Visit the Library
Getting their own library card is an important milestone for young kids. They’ll be excited about their new responsibility. Make sure to take them often to pick new books and refrain from directing their choices.
As long as they choose appropriate content, let them see where their interests take them. You should also plug into events at your local library for new ways to make reading fun.
Encourage Their Interests
While your kids may look like mini-versions of you, their reading interests may differ drastically. Forcing your childhood favorites onto them may halt their progress and deter them from wanting to read at all.
Instead, encourage their tastes, whatever those may be. Show your support by asking them questions about the books they choose and trying some out yourself.
Be Open to Any Genre
Your child may need extra support if they defy the common assumptions that boys prefer nonfiction books and girls like fiction. Affirm their choices at the library and in the school system if needed.
Your kids will appreciate your efforts and be likelier to continue their love of reading when they know they can read what they like without judgment.
Offer Extra Reading Time
Almost every child would admit their desire to stay up past bedtime, so give them what they want — with one caveat. They can stay up a little extra if they spend the time reading.
Let them pick whichever reading material they choose and be clear on exactly how late they can stay up, or they may get so engrossed they find they’ve stayed up half the night and lost important sleep.
Read Out Loud Together
One of the best ways to encourage your child’s love of reading is to read aloud with them frequently — every day if possible. They’ll learn vocabulary, word relationships, intonation and so much more just from hearing you read words off a page.
Start this practice as soon as they’re born and continue well past when they can read independently. The time you spend in books will solidify their skills and build your parent-child bond.
Make It a Game
Games and play can turn any subject or skill into an adventure. Plus, we know applying knowledge or acting out roles supports language development. Pretending to be characters from a book you’re reading together or coming up with themed games can greatly increase your children’s learning.
Make a treasure map and search your backyard or local playground for booty like the pirates in their stories or play astronauts exploring an unknown planet. Mix the real world and imagination to enforce language skills and what they’re experiencing in their reading.
Set Up a Reading Nook
Setting up a designated reading space in your home can make sitting down with a book feel extra special. A small shelf, some comfy pillows and blankets and good lighting are all you really need to transform any corner into the perfect spot.
While many parents assume technology and reading are at odds, the opposite is actually true. Smart devices and computers aren’t going anywhere. Today’s kids will be far more literate in technology than anyone before them.
As such, much of their literacy needs will be digital. Support them by renting or buying digital books or using apps to learn how to read. You’ll quickly see technology can be an asset rather than a hindrance when used appropriately.
Encouragement Over Pressure
As with any skill, your children will learn best if you give them a little room to breathe. Using these tips to encourage your kids to read naturally will work much better than strictly enforcing book time.
When your children seem to grow tired of reading for the day or are distracted while you read aloud, switch to something else and come back when they’re ready. Listen to their cues. Encourage them by making reading fun and easily accessible. Try not to pressure them to love reading, even if that’s what you want for them. You’ll likely have the opposite effect.