One question parents always ask is “How do I get my children to love reading”? Especially in this Information age (The age of Distraction) where there are so much technology and distraction giving Children 101 reasons not to read!
Hence, I ask them a few questions; how often does your child see you read a book? And how often do you read to your child?
Children are mimics particularly of their parents who are their primary agents of socialization. The answer is simple but not as straight forward. Reading is a habit and as we know habits don’t just happen overnight it forms gradually. Reading is like a rope made up of different strands, such as flashcards, grammar, vocabulary, spelling, phonics etc. These strands are very important to the rope as a whole.
The goal is getting your child to that point where he/she reads every day not because a book was assigned, but for the fun of it (Reading for Pleasure). Children who read for pleasure, are likely to do better significantly at school than their peers.
Here are some tips to get your child reading:
Make a conscious effort to have books around them: Truth be told, it takes a deliberate action to get children to imbibe the habit of reading. For toddlers, try having colorful cloth books flashcards and hardbacks everywhere you go. At this stage, children enjoy skimming through books and looking at pictures for fun. As early elementary schoolers, their vocabulary is building and they are able to identify the simple word. This is where the work is because they are eager to learn and be independent. Much of the work is on Pronunciations and building their confidence while reading simple sentences. Parents have to be very patient with children at this level. As they progress, it gets easier.
Read to your child at any opportunity given: I’m sure you are wondering if I mean you are to read to them at every free time. The answer is No. What I do mean is to try to entertain them with books as often as possible. Being read to is very similar to listening to a radio station. This could be during lunch, dinner, family time etc. Having them eat and savour the taste of food while listening to you read a book to them while occasionally glancing up at pictures you hold up for them. This is a more engaging way to have them eat than eating unconsciously while watching television or staring at a screen.
Regulate technology: Getting children to read is already much work on its own. Then having them pick between technology and a book? Come on! It’s almost impossible to have children pick a book over television or gadgets. Until they have developed the habit of reading for pleasure, it is advisable to regulate technology.
Have reading corners: As the name implies a reading corner is a corner which is eye-catching, cozy, easy to install and maintain, space efficient comprising of a selection of age-appropriate, attractive books, carefully selected for children. The point is to make an area that encourages children to read for pleasure. Having reading corners at home and in schools is a wonderful way to get children to love reading.
Children start reading at different ages don’t push it: It is important to have in mind that some very smart children don’t learn to read until they are over 7 years old, I always advise parents not to worry, they quickly catch up with their peers and become on the same reading level (A good comparison is whether a child learns to walk at 9 months or 16 months. It really doesn’t matter, except in special cases.)
Observe reading time daily: Picking out a time daily, where everyone picks up a book and read is also an interesting way to get children to love reading. The reading time could be any time of the day a little trick I discovered; children get really excited if the stay up a little after bedtime (on the condition its spent in bed reading.)
Rewards for reading: Another interesting way to get children reading is to provide them with incentives when they are found reading, finish a book or when they move from a reading level to another. The importance of incentives cannot be overemphasized especially when dealing with children! I mean who doesn’t love incentives? These rewards can come in different forms: a pencil, certificates, stickers/stamps, the list is endless. I try to encourage parents/ teachers to be canny about the incentives so the children get really excited about reading.
Don’t stop reading to your children: Even after children have started reading for pleasure, I encourage parents to continue reading to their children. This way, the habit which is gradually forming sticks better because they begin to see it as a norm. It is also a good way to connect with your children, that way you both share ideas and thoughts on topics.Read yourself: As I mentioned earlier, it is necessary they see you read! Why should they read themselves when they never see you read? Don’t just be role models in other areas of their lives, be the reason they have a reading habit and let them emulate your reading habit as a role model!