Reading is one of the most beneficial skills to have. Being able to read is one thing, but things like reading comprehension and writing can be applied in many aspects of adult daily life. It is important to be able to communicate effectively, understand abstract concepts, and to be able to conduct research to gather information. But aside from that, reading can help people learn to be more empathetic, learn about other people and cultures, and understand how to better express themselves. There are many reasons why parents should be concerned with getting their children to read, and it helps if they like to read as well. When it comes to encouraging a love of reading, there are a few things parents should consider:
Make it Fun
It’s easy for parents to be concerned if their child isn’t reading at their level or simply isn’t showing an interest in reading period, but pressuring them to read or pushing the activity on them can do more harm than good. Make sure that reading is a stress-free activity, that it is as fun as can be, and that it is enjoyable for everyone. Keeping a good attitude about it can help both parties tremendously, especially when a reluctant reader is involved.
Make it Part of Your Everyday
Kids are more likely to pick up a book or develop an interest in reading if it is already a staple in their lives. Making a habit, such as bedtime reading or encouraging reading on car rides, can help make reading something familiar for kids. Having books around the house, reading on your own and having books and reading be a part of your life and not necessarily your child’s can have an impact, too. Kids learn by example, so if they see mommy and daddy reading, they are more likely to want to read too.
Make it a Game
Boosting reading skills can happen anytime, anywhere. Make letter games when driving, asking your kids to pick out letters they see or playing “I Spy” type game with words and phrases on signs you pass by. Play letter games while getting meals together, ask them to read the labels and to see if they can find specific words around the house. While reading physical books, try the same thing. This can help reluctant readers open up to more interactive and creative ways of reading that may change the activity all together for them.
Make it Personal
Sometimes, kids need more of an “in” before getting into reading, and things like personalized books can help do that. Making your child the star of the story can instantly spark their interest. It can also be helpful if kids are going through something specific, such as starting their first day of school or learning to potty train. Reading about issues that affect them personally or reading stories where they are the hero can help them to better connect with the reading material and become more enthusiastic about reading in general.
Give Them a Head Start
If you’re having trouble getting kids interested in reading, you can help them out. Pick a chapter book with a topic your child may be interested in and read the first few chapters alongside with them. After that, encourage your child to read with you or to finish out the book on their own. Their interest in the story and the characters can motivate them to finish out the book!
Make it More Social
Encouraging kids to share books and stories can help keep their interest. Ask your child to read to you for a change, have them read to a younger sibling or an older sibling, or even have them read to a pet! There are actually plenty of libraries and pet shelters that host programs where kids read to animals which have shown to improve animal behavior as well as kids’ reading skills.
Make it Special
Treating books as special treats can give them more value. Offer your child a book when you go to the store or as a consolation prize after a doctor’s visit. Treat reading as a special activity when you do it together or when you see them reading on their own. Reading is special on its own, but making it feel extra magical can help keep a child’s interest and encourage them to do it more often.