Reading is great for kids. When kids like book reading, their language skills will grow. Reading also opens the door to numerous adventures, learning new things they won’t learn at school and developing many language skills such as speech development and vocabulary building. Spending time with books also creates special moments for you to bond with your child and enjoy each other’s company.
However, reading is not always a well-loved activity, especially for children nowadays. Most kids are bombarded with technology and game options, and it’s harder to cultivate a habit of reading as they are glued to their screens. Most parents also want to get their kids to read, and as they are under pressure to do so, it overshadows the joy of this beautiful, shared activity.
To get your child to like reading, here are some of the things that you can do:
Start right away.
As soon as your child is born, read to them. It will give them the best start in their language development and life in general. They may not understand it, but if they can hear, they can learn language from you, who repeats and read words to them. Newborns will benefit a lot from the experience of hearing stories.
While they are babies and don’t have taste yet in books, it’s also a good time to keep up with your reading. You can read them any book – a cookbook, a suspense novel, or a parenting manual. The content doesn’t matter; what’s important is they hear the sound of your voice, the cadence of the text, and the words themselves. Children will learn to love books long before they can read, and when you spend time reading books together, your children will enjoy them as they age.
Model love of reading
Children are great imitators, and they always take cues from adults. If kids see you reading for fun and enjoyment, they will be more likely to pick a book themselves. Make sure they see you reading and talk about the book you have read.
Read with your child every day
Spending time with children is an integral part of parenting, especially at a younger age. The introduction of a good children’s book at this time can make sure they develop a liking for reading. For starters, you should take the lead and read the story aloud for them, and then once they start reading by themselves, you can stay with them while they read.
Make some quality time together at the end of the day by reading out loud to help bring the words to life.
Keep books around the house
Make sure you have books lying around the house so your child grows up with books within their sight. Don’t keep all books on a single bookshelf only – have a stack of books on the living room’s coffee table, in the kitchen, and in the dining area. If possible, keep a bookcase in their room and make it as appealing as you can so their heart lunges out to pick something from it. Books have a charm, and all you have to do is sell them to your child.
Create a reading nook
A cozy, snuggle-friendly area in your home can be turned into a reading zone. Making a reading nook for the kids will make them excited to dive deep into a great book. Kids love forts, so draping two chairs with a blanket can do the trick. But if you want it to be an area where your child would want to hang out to read, build a more permanent reading nook in a portion of your house. Make sure it’s close to a natural light source (windows, balcony, skylights, etc.), and add a theme to make it fun.
Make it fun and engaging
When you read to your little one, talk about the objects and characters, and make the sounds the animals make. As you read, vary the pitch and tone of your voice and try different voices for different characters to engage their senses.
Discuss the books with your child
To help your child appreciate any book they have read, talk about it with them. As a parent, it’s your responsibility to help them make sense of the world around them, and if something about the book is puzzling, explain it and help it make sense to them. Discussing books with your kids can provide them with a new perspective on things.
You can also ask questions to enhance comprehension and enjoyment. Don’t grill them about the book, though – it’s about checking in with what they understand and feel. Ask about the characters they like best, what they think will happen next, or what they would do if they were in that situation.
Take turns in reading to each other
As your child ages, take turns reading aloud during story time. If you have an early reader, you can start by asking your child to point out words and letters they recognize. Then, take turns reading sentences. As they learn more, you can gradually read less and let your child take the lead more.
Pay attention to their interests
Your child will develop interests as they grow older. If she’s drawn to a particular topic, let’s say dinosaurs or shapes, try to find children’s books on that subject. This will help reinforce that books are tools for learning more about the things we care about. If you’re not particularly interested in what they like, don’t force them to read something else that you want them to be interested in, as reading time may frustrate them.
Try to expand their world
Yes, you don’t have to deny them the books they like, but try to steer them towards other books and topics as well actively. Don’t be afraid to expose your toddlers to subjects that they don’t have any context about. Even seemingly complicated topics like history, geology, and cultures can be broken down into parts and made interesting through a children’s book.
Get them a library membership
You can lean on librarians – they are paid to make reading appealing for kids. Check in at the front desk and ask if any upcoming activities and events can help keep kids busy when school is out. Some libraries have reading programs and games for kids to make it a fun experience. Also, be sure to get each of your kids a library card to help them take ownership of their reading experience.
Reward them for every book they finish
Positive reinforcement can be a tool that you can use with your child. Handing a small token of achievement to them once they finish a book can increase their reading speed and desire to read. You can sometimes reward them with a new book once they complete the older one but make sure you give them something as a prize.
Help bring the books to life
If your child has a favorite book, be creative and find book-inspired activities to do in real life to extend the experience. If your toddler loves The Three Little Pigs, take them to a farm to see some pigs in person. If they like to read about the stars, take them to a planetarium. If you can, you can also book a vacation in the setting of their favorite book. After reading Harry Potter books, you can set your next vacation to London and enjoy the train stations there. It all enhances the book reading experience, keeping their sense of awe and wonder alive.
Read the book, then watch the movie
Some classic children’s books have been turned into movies, like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Alice in Wonderland, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Bridge to Terabithia, and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. First, read it together, a few chapters at a time, and host a family movie night to watch the film when you’re done.
Travel with books
If you’re going somewhere, you know you will have to wait, like in a doctor’s office, at the airport, or at the DMV – bring a book. Stories can help them keep occupied, and it’s a better option than a tablet or a smartphone. This can also teach your kids that there’s always time to read.
Gift them with books
When your sister or mother-in-law asks about birthday or Christmas presents to give your kids, suggest books. Have your kids give books to their friends, too. Make it personal by asking the gift giver to write a personal message on the book cover. This way, your child can cherish the book and the message from a loved one for many years to come.