“I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library.” — Jorge Luis Borges
As many of us celebrate Literacy Month this September, it’s an important time to not only think about how we can encourage our children to read more, but also how we can inspire them to actually want to read, and see it as a positive and fulfilling experience.
Strong literacy skills entail competence across language, reading and writing – and positive experiences with books and reading ensure that young children are well-equipped to develop these essential skills with confidence and ease as they progress through school.
A love of readings flings open so many doors for young children, not only in determining their overall academic success, but also in stimulating and activating their minds and imagination.
The role that parents play in instilling this lifelong love of reading is absolutely critical. In many cases, it starts even before the child begins their first year of formal education.
Some things for parents to consider are:
1. The earlier, the better
Children are more inclined to enjoy reading when they start from a very early age. Even before they learn to recognise the words printed on the pages before them, it’s important to make a habit out of reading to them, so that they become familiar with the process. If they’re very young, let them turn the pages for you, comment on the illustrations and try to sound out certain letters and words.
2. Show them how great it is
Young children will become more motivated to read when they see the grownups around them doing it and enjoying it. If they show curiosity and ask questions about the book you’re reading, tell them about the story, the interesting characters you’ve met, and the new pieces of knowledge you’ve picked up. This teaches them about the value that each and every book can offer.
3. Make it part of daily life
Research has continued to show us again and again how important it is for parents to read to their children at home. It’s often easy to find excuses not to do it – and some parents make the mistake of seeing daily reading time as a chore (and kids can pick up on it!). Set up a good time each day to make reading time part of your daily ritual – and don’t stop doing it just because they’ve already learned to read independently.
5. Let them choose what to read
Children will be more motivated to read when they find the books engaging. By letting them choose books that suit their own tastes from time to time, it not only makes the reading experience more interesting and fun, it also shows them that reading is truly for everyone!
6. Show them the rewards of reading
Some parents feel that their children should be given a tangible or material reward for reading. But this encourages them to associate reading with chores and work. Instead, opt to show them the intrinsic rewards of reading – whether it be learning new things or engaging in new stories. Be enthusiastic about the story during reading time, and talk about what you’ve read together afterwards.
7. Learning to read is challenging. But it doesn’t have to be a chore
Children need to feel that they can cope with the challenges of learning to read. Make sure that your child’s reading program is engaging and interesting, so that they can feel motivated and excited while learning.
Also, try to keep an active presence during reading lessons to be there whenever they feel frustrated or are encountered with an unfamiliar word.
Do you have any other ideas for creating positive experiences with books and reading in your child’s mind?
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