I have a confession to make: I am such a book nerd! I love reading all different genres and will sometimes be reading more than one book
at a time. I know I’ve said in another post that yarn/craft stuff is my favorite type of gift to receive, but books are right up there too.
That being said, it really hurts my heart to hear people say “I hate reading”. These are people that I know for certain don’t have any kind of learning disorders or anything that makes it difficult for them to read.
As parents, grandparents, caregivers, or anyone who has a child in their life, I believe it is our responsibility to encourage a love of books at an early age. I was so excited when my 1-year-old started showing a preference for certain books. She loves going over to our (crammed) bookshelf, picking out a book and toddling over to us with it.
Reading for children is an important part of their development. By developing their reading skills, your child will become better at spelling, understanding ideas and concepts and develop positive language skills early on.
Reading is also a lot of fun and a great bonding activity for parents and children. But how do you raise a good reader when you’re competing against a host of electronic devices?
Here are a few tips:
#1 – Read daily. Reading a little bit and often is better than leaving large gaps of time between reading. By making reading a daily activity, you cement that reading is important and just a “part of life” in your child’s mind.
#2 – Visit the library. Many children today have never visited a library outside of school. There are so many other activities and things competing for your child’s attention that the library may be last on their list. But most kids respond positively to an outing at the library. Make visiting the library a regular activity and you’ll children will start to look forward to it.
I’m ashamed to admit that I lived about 2 miles from my library for several years without ever setting foot in it. (I was a book buyer, not a borrower for far too long). When my son was born, I made it a point to start visiting the library with him and we love it. We honestly cannot leave there with less than 20-30 books! The amusing thing is that he always had a high level of energy and found it difficult to sit still. If we had a pile of books, he would sit with us for longer than we imagined was possible because he just loved being read to (he still does).
Many libraries will have a summer reading program incentive with a little prize for reading a certain number of books.
In fact, Barnes and Noble is running a program this year from May 25 to September 6th. For every 8 books read, your child can go in and select a free paperback book from their list. This is geared toward kids in 1st – 6th grades. For more information, go here: Barnes and Noble 2010 Summer Reading Program
#3 – Start a book club. This can easily be done by joining forces with a few other parents. Meet weekly with the children to discuss a new book. This way the children not only see their parents getting involved, but also have the chance to develop grown-up conversational skills at the same time. Discuss the book and then enjoy a few treats; make it fun so that the kids really look forward to it.
#4 – Lead by example. If your kids see you reading from a young age, they may want to do the same thing mommy or daddy are doing. Show your kids that reading is a normal, fun part of life. Tell them about the latest book you’re reading and why you enjoy it. Show them the Sunday newspaper and explain how you learn what’s going on in the world by reading it.
#5 – Read at bedtime. Reading at bedtime is wonderful for both children and parents. It gives parents and kids a few minutes to connect at the end of each day. You can share a story and then discuss a few of the characters. Reading is a great way to unwind and is a great part of the bedtime routine. I have great memories of my family reading E.B. White’s books to me at bedtime – Stuart Little, Charlotte’s Web…. It was such a nice bonding time that I will always cherish.
#6 – Let them choose. Give your children access to a variety of suitable reading materials to help them realize that reading is fun at any age. Whether it’s comics or “how to” books, by providing fun and informative reading material you’ll keep your child hooked and involved.
Another great option for older kids is to share their reading book with mom and dad. You can each read the same book together a few evenings a week. Your child can read one chapter out loud, then you read another and so on. This not only helps you spend time with your child but you get to enjoy a story together. There are some fantastic teenage mystery and action books that most young adults will really enjoy reading.
While raising a good reader may seem to be a harder job than it once was, it’s not too difficult a task. By exposing your children to books from a young age and creating an enthusiasm for reading, you’ll lead by example and help to raise a good future reader.