Helping a child to develop his or her love of reading is a gift that will last a lifetime. Here are 10 tips to help you cultivate your child’s love of books and reading.
1. Read together – Rather than plunking your child down in a chair with the hopes that he or she will read on their own while you do other tasks, take the time to read with your child. From start to finish, show your child what it means to choose and read a book and then think about it afterwards.
2. Create special time for reading – Set aside time regularly to read. Make this one-on-one time with your child. Choose a time of day when both you and your child are alert and ready to spend quality time together. During this time, turn off and put away your mobile device. Avoid taking phone calls, responding to e-mails or sending texts during your special reading time. Give your child your full attention and focus on creating a fun and enjoyable experience.
3. Get comfy – Chose a spot that is comfortable with lots of light. Preferably, you want to read in a space that is free of loud or distracting noises, too.
4. Let your child chose the book – Chances are higher that your child will be motivated to read with you if you let him or her pick out the book you will read. If you choose the book, your child’s interest levels may be too low to fully engage him or her.
5. Take turns – You do not have to do all the reading and neither does your child. Take turns and share the reading experience.
6. Change your voice – Change the speed, pitch and tone of your voice to keep the experience exciting for your child. Create different voices for different characters to engage your child’s imagination.
7. Give encouragement – Give your child lots of praise and support as he or she learns to read. Be gentle, kind and encouraging. This helps to create a positive atmosphere where learning and discovery go hand in hand.
8. Offer incentives – For reluctant young readers, incentives can help motivate him or her. For example, one incentive might be that for every book you read together, your child can stay up for an extra 15 minutes that night… but you have to get through the whole book! Choose incentives that don’t involve food, TV or video games to help encourage a healthy lifestyle. Keep the rewards modest and then keep your promise.
9. Ask questions as you read – Ask your child to point to characters in the book or identify items that are a certain color. When your child is ready, ask about letters and words, too.
10. Keep the fun going – After you have finished your book, ask your child about his or her favorite parts of the story or favorite characters. Ask questions that help him or her remember the story. Practice new words together, too.
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Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.