Variation in Amount of Independent Reading
(Adapted from Anderson, Wilson, and Fielding (1988)
We are all well aware of the benefits to children who read, thanks to an abundance of research backing up the claims with evidence such as expanded vocabulary leading to a higher percentile of academic achievement for your child. According to research, children who spent more time reading showed more active growth in the language and literacy areas of the child’s brain, areas that will support learning in school, while kids exposed to too much screen time, especially those under 5, tended to show underdeveloped and disorganized brain activity.
Although you might love the idea of seeing your child holding a book rather than a tablet, making kids read an actual book can be as hard as making them eat more vegetables.
So, how can parents help their little ones fall in love with books and become lifetime book lovers? Here are 9 effective tips that you can try, to help your little one fall in love with books.
Read a lot of books to children from a young age
Statistics show that, when it comes to introducing books to your child, starting early is better than later. So, if you have an infant or toddler, start right now. Read a book at bedtime, even if your little one seems completely oblivious to the story. Gradually, not only will the story begin to grab your child’s attention, but you will also begin to see which books are your little one’s favourites—you will be asked to read them until you’ve memorized the stories by heart.
The good news is that your little ones will learn to enjoy the stories, letters, and sounds by watching you read each word aloud, repeatedly, in a relatable context. Which brings us to another benefit of reading to your child from an early age—your child is more likely to start reading sooner.
Picking foolproof, interesting books
If your children are too young to pick books for themselves and you are not confident in picking the right book for your child, choose books that already have a proven success with children. In order to make your child spend more time with books, the choices have to be fun and exciting enough that they will love to repeat it. If you fail to grab their interest and force them to focus on a book they won’t care enough about, they can associate books with boredom and nagging.
Do not focus on only the educational aspect
Parents can focus too much on the educational aspect of reading, but to successfully raise a book lover, you might have to change your tactics. Your children should be able to enjoy the book solely for entertainment purposes, without guilt. Let them explore books that grab their attention, and excite them enough to keep flipping the pages. Once your little one becomes fond of reading, learning will naturally follow out of their own curiosity, without the need for putting any pressure on them.
Find extra, fun features that could help grab your child’s interest
If your little one is young and you are still in the early stages of developing their interest in books, choose books with extra features like a sound effect button, touch-and-feel textures, tabs to open and discover, and pop-up images. These types of features can leave much stronger memories of the book, and kids can associate books with fun, interactive activity.
Let your child pick
If your children are able to read by themselves, let them pick what they want to read. Give your child access to a wide range of books and help them sort through the choices by their interest in particular genres or characters. The books your little ones choose will be much more appealing to them than ones chosen by others. Let your child do the job, and they will be thrilled to open the books that they have hand-picked themselves.
Visit the library to expand their exposure to a variety of books
As your children get older and their reading level grows, it will be hard to purchase all of the books they want to read. A weekly visit to the library or an online subscription to library ebooks and audiobooks will expand your children’s book selection. It is important for your children to always be able to access enough interesting books, to keep them motivated and interested in reading.
Do not limit them only to paper books
If your goal is to raise your kids to be book lovers, try not to limit the methods of how they can access stories. Focus on helping your children find interesting stories that fulfill their curiosity. Help your child use whatever gadgets and methods you can make available for them to consume stories. For example, in the car or at bedtime, audiobooks can help them relax and ease their minds. If they are tired of text, a comic book format or graphic novels can freshen up their reading experience.
Introduce the reading list and review system
If your child is especially competitive or visual, using a reading list and review system can help them stay motivated to read continuously. As their list grows, they can see how many books they have read each month, and how they reviewed each one, whether using a five-star system or point system. The reading list can also be developed into a reading journal, in which they can add their thoughts, note their favourite characters, or write a summary of the story.
For older children, forming a book club can further increase motivation
If your child is old enough to discuss books in depth, forming a book club—whether with peers or with family members—can improve their reading experience, as well as motivate them. Having a group of people who have read the same book share their thoughts and questions can deepen your child’s reading comprehension, and encourage them to stay on track with their daily reading goals.
To raise your children to be book lovers, start reading to them early. If you are unsure of what books your child might enjoy, start with well-known books that are already loved by many children, to maximize your chances of picking the right book for your child. Once your kid is able to read on his or her own, provide enough selection for them to explore a variety of books, and allow them to explore different media such as audio and ebooks. Comic books and graphic novels can boost your little one’s interest in books as well, by offering a refreshing change from regular books. For older children, forming book clubs, reading lists and journals can motivate them to stay in the habit of reading.
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