From the time my children were toddlers, every other week or more we’d go to the library and max out our cards. I’d carry a large mesh bag in and load it up with a huge stack of board books and picture books (and later chapter books and early readers and so on). We’d read four every night before bed (not always on weekends), taking turns, page by page, on who got to read once they’d graduated to that level. The three of us absolutely loved this special time together (sometimes with Dad instead of with Mom) and rarely skipped it. Today, they are A students in upper elementary and high school. While I certainly can’t take all of the credit for their grades, (not even close!) I have to believe that some of their ability to excel in school, as well as their love of learning, has to do with my focus on books from a very early age. So for Valentine’s Day, I’m thrilled that my guest blogger, author Rosie Russell, discusses this subject with us, one so near and dear to my heart.
10 Ways to Instill The Love Of Reading In Your Child
Are nap time and bedtime the only times your toddler or preschooler wants to read? This Valentine’s Day, learn how to instill the love of reading!
1) Find a book at the proper age level for your child.
For toddlers or younger children, check out stories with engaging illustrations and limited words. ABC, animal, counting, and rhyming books are excellent choices.
For preschoolers, find books on subjects they can relate to or something they already treasure. It’s so easy for us to choose the book, but finding tales that interest them is the key. Take them to the library and see what books they’re drawn to.
Also, don’t stick to just storybooks. Expose them to age-appropriate non-fiction as well. Kid-centered magazines and activity books are a fun way to teach your child about the world.
2) Make sure your reading area is well lit and comfortable.
Find comfy pillows or chairs for your reading time.
Invest in a lamp that will work for your area. Flashlights may be a fun addition for nighttime stories. Building a reading tent out of blankets and tables during the day creates excitement, too.
Snuggle up in a cozy spot if you’re reading together. Or, encourage a child to read on her own for a bit. Even a toddler will leaf through a stack of enticing books sitting next to him on the couch, especially if he was the one to pick them out.
3) Point out pictures and subject matter to discuss before you begin reading.
Give attention to the cover image and the title, and guess what the story might be about.
For older children, show them the author and illustrator’s names and talk about what those roles mean. Many times the books will contain photographs. Talk about the work this would have involved.
This process will teach your child how a book is made. When they start school, you’re helping them build the foundation to write their own stories.
4) For the dialog in your stories, change your voice to sound like the characters.
Make your voice change as the characters change. Make them as goofy as you like. Children respond to this and you’ll make the story an unforgettable one.
5) Don’t forget to ask a few questions throughout your story.
Ask them their thoughts. “I wonder what will happen next?”
Search for objects or people in the story to keep them involved.
6) At the end of each book, talk about the story.
Ask them what their favorite part or character was. Did they like the story? Did they like the ending? If not, what do they think should have happened instead?
This is a great time to find out the types of books your child will enjoy in the future. Make another trip to the library or bookstore or jump online with them to look for stories that are similar.
7) What happens if you start a book and they don’t seem interested?
Skip it and choose another. As adults, we find books that we start but which fail to hold our interest. It’s important to realize that children are the same way.
However, if your child is enjoying a story, but it’s too long for them to sit through, try adding a bookmark and return to it later. If you can see that they’re too tired to focus, put the book away for another day entirely. Remember that a child’s attention span for reading is something that will grow with time, but only through continued exposure to words and pictures.
8) Create a habit to read every day.
Children, for the most part, love routines. If they know at a certain time of day or night that it is “reading time,” they’ll settle into the habit and will look forward to that time.
When they are very young, they’ll love reading time especially because they’ll be spending time with you. But as they grow, this love of that special time will turn into a love of reading for its own sake.
9) Try audio books.
Audio books are wonderful. If you have the book on hand, they can follow along. When a child views the written words and listens to how the words are pronounced, your child is sharpening his or her reading skills. Some of us are audio learners and some of us are visual learners. Sometimes, a child who doesn’t respond as well to looking at a book will take very well to listening to one.
10) Have fun!
Most of all, have fun during your reading time. There are so many wonderful books out there to choose from. Pick an array of stories. Children love joke books, I spy books, fantasy, and mystery books. The lists are endless.
The time you spend together reading will be treasured for years to come. There is hardly a better gift you can give your child than to open their world to imagination and the love of reading. Remember, a love of reading does not happen by accident. Every effort you make for your child in this area will enrich their lives for years to come.
Rosie Russell is the author and illustrator of seven books.
She studied Early Childhood Education and has taught students in elementary and middle school for fifteen years in the Midwest.
Rosie now writes and illustrates full time and is looking forward to sharing her books with students, encouraging them to write and illustrate their own stories.
Learn more about her at the links below.
Her latest book, Sherman the Shopping Cart, a Search and Find book, can be found at the links below:
Thanks for reading!