This was originally posted on A Sorta Fairytale but I thought I’d share here, especially because…T’is the season!
Although I consider myself a stay-at-home mama, I teach English part time at a local college and I love it. I’ve always loved to read and one of my main reasons for becoming an English teacher was so that I could encourage others to read, too. (Kinda corny, huh?) So, today I’m going to share with you my top tips for encouraging your children to read, read, read–and to love it!
We all the know the dismal statistics: nearly 25% of American adults haven’t read a single book in the past year. But reading is so important for vocabulary development, and it teaches kids about the world around them, about grammar and syntax and it can even help improve writing skills. And most of all, reading is fun! Here are some things you can to do to encourage your child to love reading–and a few tips to get you reading more too!
1. Read to your kids
Captain obvious here! This is one of the easiest ways to help your kids develop a love for reading. And, it’s probably something you’re doing already. The most common thing we do is incorporate books into the bedtime routine and that’s a great start. Remember, it’s never too early to introduce books. Kids as young as 6 months old benefit from a book before bed.
There’s also more you can do. Next time you’re at the doctor’s office waiting to be seen, read a new book instead of handing over your iPhone or tablet.
2. Let your kids read to you
Kids love to be the authority, so why not flip the script and ask your child to read to you? They’ll likely get a kick out it. Around age 3, you might start to notice that your child is memorizing the books you’re reading each night (especially if your kids are like mine and pick the same books for weeks at a time!). This memorization routine precedes reading and it’s a huge developmental step! So, let them recite the book to you and call it reading and be very proud of them! If your kids not at that stage yet, get a few picture books and encourage them to make up a story based on what they see in the pictures.
3. Go to the library
Libraries are an underused resource! Most libraries have free story time or book clubs and other fun activities centered around reading, perfect for kids of all ages. Be sure to check out your local library’s programs and then take your kids there. Don’t worry about libraries being super quiet–the kid’s room is lively and everyone will totally understand that your child feels the need to roar like a dinosaur right now.
4. Let your kids see you reading
This is one of the most important things you can do for your kids. Let them see you reading! And don’t worry if you’re not a big reader –you’re reading this blog and that totally counts! Show your children that the iPad or tablet is for reading just as much as it is for playing games. Download the Kindle or Nook app and download some books for yourself.
5. Use technology to your advantage.
If you can read on the iPad or tablet, so can your kids! Splurge and buy 1 or 2 favorites on the iPad and occasionally read bedtime stories from there. Your kids will love the “turn the pages” of the “book” by swiping their finger across the bottom of the tablet. And, this will show your kids that technology isn’t all about playing games! Also be sure to check out what technology resources your library has available. You may be able to borrow eBooks for free or even borrow a tablet if you don’t have one.
If you have older kids, let them earn screen time by reading. For every minute spent reading, they get 2 minutes of screen time to play games or watch a movie or tv show (up to an hour or whatever you’re comfortable with).
6. Be sure to find the right book.
Half the battle with reading is finding something that you actually want to read. If chick lit or romance is your thing, go for it! Don’t judge yourself because any reading is worth doing. Reading is an escape and if 50 Shades of Grey takes your mind off the 4 loads of laundry that need to be folded and the bathroom that needs to be scrubbed, go for it!
The same goes for your kids: help them find a book they’ll love. Your 8 year old son might not be into Judy Blume. Take him to the library and let him look around and find something that interests him. Ask the librarian for recommendations–that’s what she’s there for! And don’t forget about non-fiction. If your kids love animals, get some books about animals. If they love comic books or magazines likes Sports Illustrated Kids, let them read those. Remember, any amount of reading is worthwhile!
Looking for a book recommendation for you? Check out some of my favorite books in this blog post.
7. Schedule family activities that are centered around reading!
If you have older kids, set a time for the family to read simultaneously. Each person can read his or her own thing for 30 minutes. Make some fun snacks and sit on the couch and read alongside your kids.
Or, making reading a family activity by comparing a book to a movie. Choose a book everyone will like and read the book together, as a family. Then, see the movie and talk about the similarities and differences when it’s over.
The best part about this is that it works well with kids of all ages. For the younger set try Charlotte’s Web or The Cat in the Hat. For older kids, read Coraline and then see the movie.
In today’s fast-paced, technology-rich world, sitting down to read a good book can get left behind. But, the benefits of reading are huge, so try to make time to fit it into your family’s routine. You’ll thank yourself later (and so will your kids!).