Helping Children Develop a Love of Reading

As a former first grade then Reading Recovery teacher turned stay-at-home mom, I have found it a delight to start from scratch cooking up children who love to read! I believe the most important thing you can convey to a child is that reading is fun and enjoyable. Here are 10 great ways to do it!

1. Start when they are babies (even in your belly) They are listening to language before they are born and books have a different rhythm than regular speech. The more they hear the easier it will be for them to learn later.

2. Invest in some good board books for your infant /toddler. Children at this age like to be able to hold and manipulate books and look at the pictures. They also like to chew, and crinkle pages. A good sturdy board book will last dispite all this.

3. Create a regular storytime ritual (or more than one). In our house we have a ‘reading chair’ that we all pile into for storytime during the day. We also have had a bedtime story ritual since our 4 year old was born. Now each boy picks 1 story for mom, and 1 for Dad at bedtime. It takes a while, but sometimes it’s the best 30 minutes of our day!

4. Books that have beautifull illustrations with details for children to notice (ie. One Moose Twenty Mice, where a cat hides on each page,and other stories by Clare Beaton) can help children and parents have fun with books before they are actually ready to read. This playing with books is not “just fun” it can actually help your child develop critical looking and noticing skills needed for reading later on.

5. Be sure to visit libraries, not only are they a great source for books, but many offer free story hour and other programs for parents/caregivers and their children to attend.

6. Model for your child. Be sure your children know you are a reader. Have reading material around the house. Talk about things you have read, maybe a comic, or an interesting article in the paper about local wildlife, or another topic your children can relate to at their particular age.

7. Don’t be too quick to get rid of old favorites! Those stories they started listening to when they were one or two, can be great confidence builders when they are learning to read later on.

8. Generally 1st grade is the BIG year for learning to read, some are earlier and some are later, but for the most part this is it. Be sure to encourage your child who is just beginning. If they need help with a word try one of these questions:
Check the picture?
What would make sense there?
Get it started?
What do you think would sound right there?
If they don’t get it it’s ok to tell them a word. But, don’t interrupt your child to correct a simple mistake especially if it doesn’t change the meaning of the story. You want them to experience reading as an enjoyable past time not a chore or a test.

9. Stay positive! Sure he had it memorized when he was three, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t reading it for real now that he is 5. Memorizing and repeating familiar stories is all part of the learning process. That leads to the love of reading and learning the language structures that allow your child to make predictions as they read. Boost your child’s confidence here, and praise him for a job well done!

10. Reading is Relaxing! My son learned this when he was three and had trouble falling asleep, but with luck it will be something he continues into adulthood. We began to put him to bed with a stack of books and a flashlight (he shares a room) My husband and I love to sit in the hall and listen to him “read” old favorites!