Encouraging children to love reading is one of the most important gifts an adult can give a child. Gone are the old kindergarten days where children go to school for half a day and play. Now they are expected to be familiar with books and at the very least, prepared to learn to read simple books. Reading is a foundation of life skills. Children will have a much easier time in school and in life if they are enthusiastic and love to read, rather than viewing it as a chore to be accomplished. There are several ways a love of reading can be fostered in a child.
Set an Example and Set Aside Time
Children watch the adults around them and tend to mimic and be interested in the same things the adults are doing. Let the child observe an adult’s enthusiastic book reading, and chances are, that child will be interested in the book. Set aside 45 minutes or so a day and reserve it for exploring the world of books. It will not take long for a child to get into the habit of looking through a book each day. Plan to discuss the important features of the book with the child, such as the story line, or choose a character and see if the child knows anyone who resembles that character.
The type of book that is chosen is very important. The book should be age/reading level appropriate if the child is reading independently. If an adult is reading a book to the child, the book topic should be something in which the child has shown interest. Adults can make reading the book enjoyable by using different voices for characters, making puppets with the child and reenacting the book or chapter, or simply by being silly when they read, perhaps making a “mistake” and allowing the child to correct the mispronounced word. Fun little games go a long way in making children comfortable and encourage them to love what they are doing. Some books, such as Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, have a CD that can be played while reading the book. Children music will find they are reading along in no time.
Take Field Trips then Read or Make a Book
Children love to go to new places and learn about them. Take the child on a field trip, then find a book about the place that was visited, or something the child saw that they were most enthusiastic about. Make a book with a child about their field trip and let the child read the book to their friends, siblings or adults. Children will love having their own personalized book that they created and will relish sharing the information with whoever will listen.
Visit Literary Locations
Many local bookstores have wonderful children’s sections that have sitting areas just perfect for a child to curl up and sample a book. They also usually have various children’s events through out the year, such as story hour or children’s time. Seeing other children at the bookstore interested in books also encourages a child to explore. Local libraries often have scheduled children’s events and have many children’s books for a child to look through.
Every book a child reads, no matter how short, teaches them valuable vocabulary lessons and sparks their imagination. Reading as a child is important to being a successful adult. If a child loves to read, life will be much easier for them than if a child dislikes reading and struggles with it. Enjoy the time spent reading with a child and give them the gift of encouraging their love of reading.