Reading opens up entire new worlds to you, transports you to new places, and lets you live vicariously through someone else. Want to slay a dragon? Track down a thief? Visit the moon? Learn about the discovery of radium? There is a book for that. Reading is a great way to introduce your kids to historical events, different cultures, and varying perspectives, so obviously we want them to enjoy the experiences that books hold. Thankfully there are ways that you can help prime your kids to love reading.
1. Read Aloud
As early as possible, start reading to your kids. Read them everything: the back of the cereal box, instructions, recipes. Even if they may not fully understand what it means yet, kids hear inflection, rhythm, and pronunciation in action. It normalizes reading and integrates it into their everyday lives, and they get to see you sound out words and vary your voice for the content. Revisit your favorite young adult novel with your infant and don’t be afraid of reading a chapter books to your toddler. Encourage elementary-aged children to pick out a fascinating nonfiction book about whatever interests them and read it to them.
2. Model Reading
Let your kids see you make time to read for pleasure and talk about your experiences with reading. Tell them about the book you read in high school that made you want to pursue your current career, or why you love biographies the most. Make connections over reading and your kids will see that reading adds richness to life.
3. Get to the Library
Get your child a library card and use it! Let them explore cover art and choose books from any section they desire. Show them that part of the fun is picking out books and figuring out what genres they like. Make it an adventure!
4. Start a Routine
Children, especially younger children, love routines. Figure out where you can squeeze in reading so that it becomes a regular part of your daily or weekly rhythm. Before bedtime is a favorite, but what about on Saturday morning while breakfast is cooking? During quiet time when they used to nap? Even young toddlers can sit and look at picture books by themselves to “read” for a bit.
5. Talk It Out
Encourage your kids to talk about what they are reading by asking open-ended questions. How did they feel when the protagonist lost the big game? Why do they think the author chose to end the story that way? Asking questions based on their opinions help them evaluate their own feelings about the book. Even young children can answer who their favorite character is or draw a picture of what they like best about the story.
Truly the gift that keeps on giving, a love of books will help your kids for the rest of their lives. What other strategies do you use to encourage your kids to enjoy reading?