Advice for parents about how to pass on the love of a good book
Reading is wonderful.
There’s nothing like curling up with a good book and escaping to another place, time or world.
Perhaps it’s a Victorian parlor, listening to a chamber music quartet or similar entertainment. Maybe you’ve been spirited away to a parallel universe via the most common of travel vessels that inhabit the world of year 3372 a.d. in which you live. Still more compelling, you may be revisiting history, walking through the cavernous palaces at Versailles, experiencing first-hand the decadence and debauchery of a bygone era. “Let them eat cake.“
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No matter what your desire or fancy, you can find it via reading. And so can your kids.
Children these days, however, have many distractions, making it more of a challenge for parents to instill the love of reading into their kids. Between the latest gadgets, technology and an active social life full of playdates and more, it can be a daunting task getting and keeping your child excited about reading.
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That being said, there are some things that parents can do to get their kids into the cerebral groove, and to get them to choose Excalibur over the XBox.
Whether your child is six months or six years old, there are things you can do to instill a love of reading that will continue on into their adult life.
Top 10 Tips to Make Your Child Love Reading
1) The Early Bird… – The love of reading needs to be learned. To this end, start them early. Even before they can read, read to them. No child is too small to be read to. Choose some age-appropriate books (there are some great selections for babies, preschool, school-age and older) and get into the habit of reading with your child.
2) The Dewey Decimal Dogma – Libraries are often one of the first places where a child will foster their interest and love of books. Take them to your local library regularly and let them experience the world of promise that books provide. As well, enroll your child in library-run, age-appropriate programs and events so that they will meet other like-minded kids and their parents.
3) Make it Good – In order to get the buy-in from your kids about reading, they need to feel personally compelled to want to read. How do you get them to this point? By making reading such a compelling option that they would be crazy to not want to read. Get them some tried and true, really good books that are timeless children’s classics. Make sure that the books that you choose are at your kids’ particular learning and comprehension level so that they can fully enjoy the experience. Read the books to them and also let your child look at the books themselves in order to build their interest and excitement.
4) Monkey See, Monkey Do – Set a good example – after all, we parents are the greatest influence on our kids, particularly when they’re young. Let them see you reading and enjoying books, surround them with examples of the world of imagination that is provided through reading. Let them see you reading, and often. You are the perfect person to set the stage for your kids.
5) Kickin’ it Old School - Sure, iPads are great, but there’s something to be said for the tactile nature of the written word. Newspapers, magazines, even comics can provide great opportunities to engage your children in reading. Read the comics and fun pages in the newspapers, or show them an article that would interest them. Magazines can provide a “softer” approach to reading as they’re fun to look at and pictorially stimulating as well.
6) Time and Space – What do the experts say? Location, location, location. Set up a special “Reading Nook” for your junior reader to make the activity one that is seen as both fun and exciting. It doesn’t have to be fancy: it can be a selected corner in the living or family room, or a spot in the child’s bedroom. Try adding a special comfy chair, a small table and a lamp. Watch your child take to their space with a good book and a vivid imagination!
7) Same Old, Same Old - There’s something to be said about routines. The same can be said about reading. Get your kids into the habit by making reading a ritual. If they’re very small, read to them at the same time every day or evening, whether it’s in the morning, after their bath and/or before going to bed. Getting them into the habit and associating reading with other positive actions (e.g. bedtime/comfort/relaxation) is an important step in getting them engaged and interested.
8) Make it Fun – There are some great reading-related games and activities that you can provide for your kids. Some examples include reading-related board games (e.g. junior Scrabble, Boggle), age-appropriate crossword puzzles and word-searches. Online and digital options are available as well (think apps, kids reading sites, etc.). Explore the landscape and when you’ve found some options, share them with your children and watch them flourish!
9) Support their Habit: Kids need to feel the support of their interests from the ones they care about most: their parents. Show the love and show them how important you feel about reading. Give books as gifts, give your kids their own reading lamp or book light clip, start a child-focused book club with your child and their friends. They will be so much more likely to embrace reading if they feel that their parents are behind them 100 per cent.
10) Technology is Your Friend – If your kids play on the computer, why not use it to your advantage? There are some great reading programs and activities online. Do some research and allow your child another method of reading, as an added option. If you use an e-reader or iPad, let them use it sometimes as well, by loading on some age-appropriate content for them to explore.
Here’s a video where I discuss specific tactics that can be used to help your child with their love of reading:
How often do you read to your child? Could you read to them more? What challenges have you faced in getting your child to engage with reading?
VIDEO: Carol Burnett – 1970’s “Reading Is Fundamental”
Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons