“Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his needs, is good for him.” —Maya Angelou
Book reading in today’s crowded and chaotic world is faced by severe competition from several other interesting pursuits such as watching TV, playing video games and interacting with others via social networks. But what we, as parents, don’t realize is that such pursuits don’t encourage children to envision and imagine scenarios that can only be imagined through reading.
Nurturing love for reading in kids can do wonders by increasing their cognitive proficiency from an early stage and inducing in them a bright imagination. Kids become book lovers for a number of reasons. Sometimes, it is a single book that captures their attention and opens up their imagination to the exhilarating world of fiction. Other times, it may be a teacher, who assigns great books, that develops the thirst for more reading. Whatever the reason, the main emphasis should be on nurturing this healthy habit in your kids if they are somewhat reluctant when it comes to reading.
We are presenting you with twenty-one stellar reasons as to how parents can cultivate the love of reading in their kids from an early stage to turn them into book lovers.
Surround your child with books
Although you may ideally cultivate reading habits in your children from the very start, if you haven’t yet, it’s never too late to start. You can do this by placing books strategically in areas where your children mostly spend their time, for example play area. Also, keep some books in a car if planning for a long drive and have at least one in your purse if you are going someplace where you might have to wait. Reading can be done anywhere – at a retail pharmacy when waiting your turn or while sitting in the waiting area to pick up an older sibling from her gymnastics practice.
Don’t force reading
When trying to instill healthy reading habits in kids, remember the key is not to force them to read. Asking them to read is one thing and ordering them to read is another. A subtle approach is required when you want to make reading an enjoyable experience for your kids. Don’t push them into spending more time reading than they are willing to. If your child doesn’t feel like reading a book from cover to cover, avoid forcing him to do so. Give them something else for a change to see if it’s the genre that is the problem.
Follow your child’s lead
Whenever reading with kids, let them lead. As parents, we may believe it is our duty to point out direction and structures to correct them, but it should not be made a habit. Adopt the habit of going with the flow and stop correcting your child for every mistake he makes. Guide them rather than pointing out where they went wrong. Also, if the kid shows interest in the story being read, avoid interrupting. Don’t ask too many questions when they are reading as it will break the tempo, and the child will lose interest. If you have any questions to ask or life lessons to share, talk about them once the story is finished. Rushing your child into reading something and interrupting continuously is only going to result in the loss of charm and core pleasure of reading for your kid.
Gift them books
Other kids around you may be receiving chocolates and Play Station 4, but if you are receiving A Christmas Carol as a Christmas present, thank your parents. Books can be the best presents parents can give to their children. Make every oncoming occasion a book-gifting occasion if you see that your child is showing interest in reading.
You are their reading model
Undoubtedly, your kids want to grow up just like you. They like to follow our footsteps and adapt whatever they see us doing. If you want to make your child a book lover, lead by example. Make sure your child sees you reading around the hose and not only for work or informative purposes but also for pleasure. Once they see you’re doing the same as you are trying to preach them, they will follow in your footsteps.
Go on a library trip
A local library is the best place a parent can take a child to. Not only is it resourceful when it comes to offering free reading material, it also helps parents of reluctant readers with programs like story time sessions, character plays etc. Similar to a reading community, such programs request children to read a particular book over a fixed period of time and share their opinions regarding it in the next session. These sessions also involve craft-based activities and role plays which seem engaging to even the most reluctant of readers. If however, your local library doesn’t offer such programs, there are many more benefits of going on a library trip.
You can also create your own in-house library if you don’t have the leverage of a local library nearby. You can invite over friends and arrange a small literary session at your own house to encourage reading habits in your kids.
Let kids experience the power and joy of reading
You can do so by letting kids choose their own books. As a parent, this will help you understand what interests your child the most. Once you know of it, feeding this choice is the key to making a smooth transition from a reluctant to a devoted reader. Every child is different. They may not necessarily enjoy the same genre, illustrations or authors you liked, so let them have their say when choosing books for them. Not all children enjoy story books. They might find reading about history or dinosaurs more interesting so don’t impose your choices on them.
Help your children read beyond their reading level
Often at times kids come bring home books that are slightly above their reading levels, but since reading them is assigned as homework, you have to take some measures to ensure it is pleasurable. To increase their chances of success and interest, engage them with the cover and title of the book. Before starting, ask them what they think the book might be about. You can also help them in reading by pointing out difficult words and explaining their meanings. This way you will reduce the risk of stumbling frequently, allowing your kids to grasp the core idea and information the book attempts to present.
It comes naturally to all new parents, but to retain it, is what matters. Many parents often make the mistake of not reading along with their kids once they are able to read on their own. What they don’t know is that kids love it when they are accompanied by parents and siblings when reading. You may miss the time when you had to read the story a hundred times over before your kid finally closed his eyes and stepped into the dreamland. Believe us, this offers much more to cherish than you think. Not only will your kid remember the story but also the closeness. Also, when parents read aloud with their kids, it helps children better comprehend the pronunciation of words, rhyming and structure.
Savor the series
It isn’t uncommon that kids who are introduced to a series they fall in love with, get hooked to reading. There are hundreds of such series that are not only devour-able but also leave their readers anticipating for more. Some great titles include the Harry Potter series, Narnia, Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants and Percy Jackson. If you find that your kid has given in to one of such classics, pat yourself on the back as you have raised a book lover.
Don’t get hung up on one genre
There are several phases a kid goes through when it comes to genre. He may have shown passion for detective stories in the beginning and later moved onto showing interest in fantasy or science fiction. As a parent, don’t get anxious about what your child is reading is great literature or not. Be happy about one fact alone: He is reading books one after another.
Nourish the favorite-author addiction
If you notice that your child loves reading a particular author, feed that addiction by gifting your child more books by the same author. This could serve as a great excuse for a trip to the library or a valuable opportunity for book swapping among classmates.
Count on the Classics
Now what do we really mean by classics? Classics are all those books which never seem to age despite how old you get. They always have a special place in the readers’ heart and continue to excite them for ages. Such books continue to engage readers for generations to come. Consider passing on the books you loved reading and still do, as a legacy to your kids. Although there isn’t any guarantee that they will enjoy it the same way you did, but there is a possibility they might. Such books may include Dr. Seuss collection, Narnia series, Charlotte’s web.
Give them books that they find interesting
Know what your kids like. If they are into superheroes give them books like Batman, daredevil and superman to read. If they are into spaceships, give them books revolving around the following genre. The key is to give them something to read that they can truly relate to. When kids are surrounded by books they find interesting, they automatically want to indulge themselves in reading more of them.
Edgy humor is fine
Many parents become worried when their kids bring home books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, Captain Underpants home. Because these have an edgy humorous sense where the protagonist is often getting in trouble, parents become hesitant. If you believe it is not the content your kid should be reading, tell them that. As a parent, you may believe such humor may harm your kid’s thinking, but it can also be a great way to making them book aficionadas.
Even comics are okay
We all grew up as avid fans of comics by Marvel and DC entertainment, why deprive your kids of it? In fact, now is the perfect time to encourage them to read comic books since most of the greatest comics are turning into movies and TV series. Ask them to read the comic before they go see the show or movie. If they find them of any interest, they will surely get hooked to reading.
Engage with eBooks
Although nothing beats paper, kids today are more overjoyed when they have Kindle or iPad to cuddle up with at bedtime. You may point out the hazardous effects it may have on your kid’s health, but if someone is using it for beneficial purposes, its use should not be discouraged. Research findings reveal that more than half of American kid’s population is engaged in reading digital books. This electronic means of education appears to be very appealing even to the most reluctant of readers. Download the right books for your kids on your smart gadgets and keep your children engaged in healthy reading even when traveling. Also, you will have to carry lesser baggage but of more value.
Get your kids library cards
We have already discussed the benefits of taking your children to the library. One more benefit that comes out of a library escapade is that most libraries issue children their very own library cards. A library card may seem like a normal thing to you but to a kid, that is some pretty cool stuff. Recall the time when you got your first-ever card. Remember how grown-up and special you felt? Your kids will feel the same way. You simply can’t deprive them of the joy now, can you? Giving them the ownership of their reading is the first step in making them book lovers. Teach them to keep track of that card, and use it to issue more and more books. Their eagerness to use it progressively will make them read more and ultimately grow up to become avid readers.
Reading should be made a family value
Kids do what they see. If they see you spending time reading on a daily basis, they too will grow up following the same ritual. They will grow up believing that reading is a must-adopt habit because their parents and older siblings are practicing it too. If you want your child to become a book lover, this is the least you can do. On the plus side, you get to read more too!
Make book searching a fun activity
There is no denying that actions speak louder than words. You may be one of those parents who have to keep reminding their kids to read, but to inculcate these habits in them; you need to show it to them. When kids are in their developmental stages, everything around them fascinates them. Everything they learn, they learn it from their surroundings, be it behaviors or words. To establish healthy reading habits, as parents, it is your foremost duty to surround your kids with such an environment that involves books. Take them along when book shopping, ask them to pick a book, notice their reasons behind picking a particular book and make book searching an activity like treasure hunt.
Setting up a cozy nook for reading
Kids love it when they have a separate section especially dedicated for something. A comfortable pillow fort where they imagine all their night time stories coming alive is one prime example. Do the same for their reading as well: give them a place that’s all theirs when they are reading. An educational, cozy cabin or comfortable chair will only motivate them to use it more often and thus read more. Also, make sure that the place is near the book-shelf so that kids don’t have to trek far to get their reading books.
Better, just whisper the idea in their minds and sooner than you know, they will be setting up their own private space for reading purposes. Let the creative juices flowing and have them move furniture and rearrange shelves until they are satisfied with the final outlook.
We started off with a great quote and leaving you with an even greater one:
“It is not enough to simply teach children to read; we have to give them something worth reading. Something that will stretch their imaginations—something that will help them make sense of their own lives and encourage them to reach out toward people whose lives are quite different from their own.” —Katherine Patterson