“Reading is Fundamental”. With fundamental meaning foundation, parents will want to begin fostering a child’s love for reading at a very young age in order to establish that foundation. Even by reading aloud to infant children, the ground work is being laid in the development for a child’s love of reading.
For toddler age children, a parent can begin by promoting the concept of word/picture relationships. One suggestion for parents is a game that I played with my children. You can simply use Post-it Notes to label common household items such as windows, curtains, and furniture. There are many items in the home that you can choose from.
At first the parent should label the items throughout the home as they recite aloud to the child what exactly is being labeled. Eventually, the child will be able to label the items on their own. Be sure to give plenty of praise for a job well done.
Once a child has advanced and grasped the word/picture relationship, parents can purchase well illustrated, age appropriate books to further enhance a child’s natural curiosity. Incorporate a set reading time into your daily regiment and make it exciting.
To do this successfully, while reading aloud to your child you might use facial expressions and voice fluctuation to represent the mood of a character, the roar of tiger, or the giggle of a girl, in whatever you may be reading to your child. Whatever you do, avoid a monotone voice and keep your child involved.
Contribute to your child’s natural curiosity by asking open-ended questions. This keeps them interested in the book. Such as, before you turn to the next page you might ask your child, “what do you think might happen next?” Doing this also exercises your child’s imagination and makes them want to continue turning the pages. Eventually you will want to encourage your child to read to you. They too can be encouraged to use voices and facial expressions.
Frequent trips to the library is a great way to encourage children to read. Libraries often have special events and activities specially aimed toward young children. Not only will these activities help a child develop a love for reading, they will likely open your child’s mind to a whole new world of friends and worldly adventures.
Being a reader yourself and being consistent in encouraging your child to read at bedtime, or whatever other time has been set as their special reading time, is key to them developing a love for reading. Not to mention the love they develop for spending one on one time with mom and/or dad.
Oh yes, and let’s not forget … turn off the TV.