Well don’t we all! One thing we know for sure is that a love of reading starts earlier than most people think. If parents wait until school age to introduce books and reading then it’s a much tougher climb. Research has shown that children who enter Kindergarten trailing their peers in early literacy skills, are still trailing their peers in third grade. Certainly that’s great motivation to plant the seed of reading earlier than later!
While there are no guarantees, there are some things reading families have in common. Try out some of these tips and increase your chances of raising a reader!
1. Have a reading house. Show that reading is important by doing it yourself. The fun part of this is that you don’t have to snuggle up with War & Peace to show your love of reading. Read anything from Stephen King to “Sports Illustrated” and you are setting a great example. So have fun with it!
2. Have books available for your children. Children enjoy books on their level whether they are reading independently or not. Cloth and board books are great for teaching children proper care and use of books. Picture books offer wonderful illustrations that tell the story. These are great confidence builders for children. The library offers a wide variety of books at every level for an endless supply of fresh materials.
4. Read together. This is fun for both parents and children. Parents of preschoolers and developing readers should make this a regular habit. In fact reading aloud together has been shown to be one of the highest quality parent-child interactions. Absolutely continue even after your children are literate! They still enjoy the story and parental attention.
3. Limited technology, especially in pre-literate children. Television and movies are bad things when used in moderation. Excess screen time has raised concerns in pre-literate children. When possible flip off that television and snuggle up together with a book.
4. Ask what they’re reading. Make their reading a topic of your conversation. Not only will you build comprehension skills, you’ll also learn about their interests and what is important to them. Discussions of fictional characters’ choices can tackle important parenting topics as well.
5. Be open to their choices. Kids have different interests. Some just want to read nonfiction books about dinosaurs, others might prefer to read every Junie B. Jones book twice. Graphic novels grab and hold many children’s attention. All of these books have value. Reading is reading. Children’s abilities will be enriched by all reading so try not to get too hung up on reading levels or whether they’ll earn points for their selections at school.
6. Never make reading a punishment. Ugh, can you think of killing the joy of any activity faster than by making it a punishment? Every kid (and person) makes mistakes, but rewarding bad deeds with mandatory reading time just build resentment. Heck, take away technology! Maybe you’ll get lucky and they’ll pick up a book on their own.
Ready to kick-start the reading habit? Would you like to learn more about raising a reader? Try one of these selections available at your local library:
The New Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease
Home Guide to Early Reading by Toni S. Gould
What to Read When by Pam Allyn
Or feel free to ask any Houston County Public Library employee for age appropriate recommendations. We look forward to helping you to grow your reader!