Reading is key to learning. It’s one of those basic skills that, if never mastered, will affect a child’s entire academic career. While experts generally agree that pushing children to read very early is not a good idea, you can set the stage for your child to succeed in reading. Here are some smart ways you can encourage your child to read more.
1. Surround yourself with books. Studies have shown that children who live in homes where there is lots of literature around (magazines, catalogues, books, and so forth) have better reading and math skills. So fill your house with books! Used book sales, yard sales, and the library are great places to start.
2. Make use of the library. Take your child with you to help choose interesting books. Then put the books in a special basket or bin that you and your child can dig through whenever you or your child want to read.
3. Have a special reading corner with a comfy chair, some stuffed animals, and a generally comfortable area. Make sure it has good lighting and is cheerful and inviting. If you like, you can have some snacks and drinks available in this corner, too. This reading corner can stand in for a positive time-out place – when your child feels overwhelmed and frustrated, he or she can take a break in the reading corner. This can help your child calm down, and associate reading with feeling better. How nice if more people turned to books rather than media for an escape!
4. Read to your child every day, regardless of his or her age. Even infants enjoy being read to, perhaps while you are nursing or feeding. For infants, choose books with bright colors and simple shapes in the illustrations. Older children enjoy all sorts of picture books and later, chapter books. Just because a child can read doesn’t mean you should stop reading aloud, either; children all the way through gradeschool (and even beyond!) enjoy being read to.
5. Let your child stay up a few minutes past bedtime if he or she is reading. This makes reading a bit of a reward – being allowed to stay up late is a treat! But make sure your child only gets to stay up late if he or she is reading.
6. Choose books that reflect your child’s interests. Pay attention to what your child likes, and go to the library and choose appropriate books. If you need help, librarians can help you find books on the particular subject matter you are looking for.
7. Children’s magazines are another way to encourage reading while learning about fascinating subjects.