Some children naturally adore reading. Even at a young age, these children sit and look at the pictures in their favourite books rather than play with toys or watch television. Other children are much less enthusiastic; trying to get through a short story with these unexcited readers can be exhausting. If you identify as a caregiver to the latter, and you want to incite a love of reading, consider the following four ways to encourage your child.
Walk the talk
Children are smart. If they hear you lecturing them about reading but never see you doing it, they might question the sincerity of your argument. Be creative. Read a newspaper, a graphic novel, or maybe a magazine. Let your child see you read, share what you’re learning and discuss what you like about the text. Model the engagement that you are hoping for in your child.
Make it a habit
Set a specific time and place to read. While this may be challenging with uninterested readers at first, your child will eventually understand that reading is simply a part of his or her daily (or bedtime) routine. It is important to note that you should never force your young child to sit still or even pay attention while you are reading.
As an observer, it might look like your child is disengaged, but chances are, active listening is happening. With consistent practice, don’t be surprised if your child begins quoting lines from a favourite story.
Visit the library
Take a trip to your local library and explore the shelves. Most libraries have a section devoted to children, and here, librarians are not worried about disruptive noise or little fingers touching things. Allow your child to do just that: feel the books. Lead him or her to an area organized for that specific age, and allow exploration. Give your child the freedom to choose books independently as it provides a sense of control.
If there is no public library in town, consider starting a Little Free Library. These small book-sharing boxes are relatively inexpensive to start and can excite young readers when they see new books appear in the box As well. There’s an opportunity to discuss literature with your friends and neighbours as books circulate around your community.
Kids like to be entertained. While the hope is that a well-written plot will captivate them, you can help to make that happen sooner by being an entertaining reader. Fluctuate your voice, pause during points of suspense and ask engaging questions throughout. By bringing your child into the story, he or she will appreciate how satisfying an entertaining plot can be.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could measure the literacy performance of your child over time?