Encouraging Your Children to Read
By Ms Theresa Kemp, Librarian and Early Childhood Education and Primary Teacher at YCIS Shanghai Puxi
Encouraging children to read can sometimes prove to be a challenging task. As a librarian, I fully believe that this is why it is so important to help children discover the joy of reading. The joy of reading is to escape into a world of fiction or non-fiction, and it has a myriad of life-changing benefits for young people.
Here are a few tips to get you thinking about how you can help support your child to discover that joy and fun of reading.
Make it a bonding experience:
Bringing a book to life will encourage a child to read. Reading out loud using different voices for each character makes the experience fun, and discussing the characters helps your child think in detail about what they thought or experienced. Also, children love to follow their parents. Act as a role model in your own reading habits by letting your child see you reading books, magazines, or newspapers and discussing what you read with them.
Plan a reading routine:
Set aside a time each day to enjoy a book together. At least 30 minutes gives them time to settle, enjoy the reading, and then share their feedback with you. As they grow older, they may read out loud to you with lots of expression. Time spent together at the end of the day also sets the stage for healthy discussions as they grow older.
Get them involved in choosing their books:
Every time children have the power to select their own reading materials, we find that they are more willing to read that book. In order to help them get started, you can show them how you choose a book, ask them about their interests, and guide them towards those books.
Expose them to different genres:
Involve yourself in their choices and encourage them to choose a different genre each month, e.g. mystery, non-fiction, humour, historical fiction, etc. Reluctant readers will eventually find a genre they enjoy and will likely go back to that type of book again for additional reading on their own.
Buy books regularly:
Have books all around your home to enjoy at any time. Also, visiting a library to browse and skim books adds to the bonding and joy-filled times with your child. Encourage books as gifts from others, as well.
Keep it fun!
Reading should never become frustrating. If it does, stop and analyse where the problem is – is the book too hard or not interesting to the child? First and foremost, it is about their interest and enjoyment of books. Children enjoy reading with an adult because it gives them your undivided attention. Besides using different voices, think of different ways the story could end, invite friends to read the same book, make puppets and act out the story, etc. Let your imagination go wild!
After you do these follow-up activities with your child, they will assume you’ll do it for the next book, which will help them focus on finding ways to extend the story themselves.
Last but not least, reading should be a fun and enriching experience without any kind of pressure. So, by incorporating some of the ideas above, hopefully your child will quickly see reading as a fun choice rather than a challenging chore, and that will then spark their reading rapture for life!