We officially have a reader! Yeah, that’s 1 out of 3! I am so happy for her and she loves to read!
I remember learning to read as a child. Once I mastered it, I felt like a whole universe had opened up in front of me. I could now read signs and commercials while my mom drove through town. The same is happening with our 6-year old. She reads everything she can get her eyes on, especially books!
Reading is a skill that should be nurtured very early on. Children who read a lot show improved focus and concentration, better writing skills, larger vocabulary and a stronger memory. All skills that will be useful throughout life. So how exactly do you raise children who love to read?
1- Read With Them Often
I know it sounds cliché, but the more you read to your child, the more natural reading will feel. When my kids attended a German Waldorf school, I learned that repetition is essential to children. The classes would be based on a monthly cycle. For an entire month, the children would read the same book and study the same topic. I was told that the first week, kids discover the story. The second week, they understand the story. The third week is spent exploring the story. And on the fourth week, children can tell the story. Repetition is the way children learn. Do not get frustrated if your child wants to read the same book over and over again. He is learning and will stop asking once he has mastered the story!
2- Make their Book Easily Accessible
Make sure your children’s books are everywhere and accessible to their short sizes. If your children see the books, they’ll naturally gravitate towards them. When they loose interest in their books, rotate them! It is always a good idea to put a few away and take them out on a rotation basis. They will be new to your kids again and create excitement! We also like keeping holiday books tucked away. When comes Easter, Easter books come back out and we all re-discover them together!
Your kids’ bedroom is also a good place to keep their books accessible. It will help them find a story they want to read before bed!
3- Dedicate Calm Reading Times
A good daily schedule for young kids, includes a mix of active and passive times. We usually dedicate the mid-morning and the after-lunch times for calm activities, including reading. Ask your children to pick up 2 or 3 books, find a quiet spot, and let them read. While it is important to read to your children, I find it necessary to give them some time to read on their own. You’ll often hear your non-readers “read” the story to themselves, or plush animals. This is when their imagination kicks in. They live the story and if you’ve read the book with them, you’ll get a good sense of how much they have understood it! It also gives you a bit of time to do something for yourself or sit down with them and read your own book.
4- Visit Your Local Library
We love libraries. We rarely drive by our library without the kids begging to go in. There is a special thing about it – the quietness, the choice of books, discovering new titles. The kids are happier in a library than they are in a toy store, believe me! Libraries usually also have a bunch of free activities for kids. In the summer, ours organizes reading times for younger children and reading challenges for older ones. They bring in specialists to talk about different subjects with the kids – from pets to planets and musical instruments.
Make sure to leverage your local library and see your child get inspired!
5- Create Reading Spaces
I’m a big fan of cozy spaces. It doesn’t have to be fancy. This is our favorite place to read books and all it is, is their baby crib mattress and a few pillows. They love to snuggle up and read their books there.
Their bedrooms also have dedicated spaces to read books. When I call book-reading-time, they scatter and go read in their favorite spot!
6- Don’t Skip The Goodnight Story
Oh boy, this one can start heated discussions at our house! There are nights when we are just late. By the time we finish dinner, it is past the kids’ bed time and they hate when it’s too late to read a book, especially our new reader! What I found out is that, the nights when we don’t read a story, the kids are rushed and out of routine, and they take longer to fall asleep. So really, no need to skip the goodnight story. Pick a shorter book and read on!
7- Read With Your Readers
It is easy, once your child starts reading, to let them read on their own. While they still read out loud, make sure to sit with them and listen to them (outside of the dedicated quiet reading times). This is a good time to build up their reading skills. There will always be tricky words they need help with and you are there to give them support and show them that their reading matters!
8- Introduce Level-Appropriate Books
It is easy to get excited about your child’s new skills and we would love to have them read big books quickly. However, try to stick to books they are comfortable reading. There is nothing wrong with pushing them out of their comfort zone here and there, but you definitely want to give them some wins. Once they start mastering a reading level, you will find them having more fun with reading and their reading speed increase. They will start recognizing the easy words and they will be known forever. Most books have a nice system where the cover clearly indicates whether it is a Pre-Reader book, Level 1, 2, and so on. You will notice when your child is ready to move on to the next level and more exciting books!
9- Be A Good Role Model
This one is hard when you’re a busy mom or dad, trying to raise kids, manage a household, a job, etc. But try to drop chores and electronics several times a week, and sit down to read. My kids love to find me on the couch with a book. They are immediately calm and cuddly. They will naturally grab a book and start reading themselves. The dedicated calm times are another good time to sit down and read while they are reading! Make it a family affair!
10- Choose Interesting Books for Them
For reading to be attractive to your kids, the topics need to be aligned with their interest. Unless you’re a mathematician, I doubt that you would find a calculus book super entertaining. And you might not love this one, but if your child is into superheroes, let them pick superhero books. If they enjoy planets, let them read astronomy books of their reading level. You and I might prefer them reading about savannah animals, but if they’re not interested, they won’t enjoy reading. You want to make sure reading is fun and a good use of your and their time. Interesting topics make engaged readers, engaged readers make happy kids! My daughter picked those books during a recent library trip – nothing I would have picked but she knew exactly what she wanted!
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