Before my children were even born, I knew that I wanted them to be great readers. I wanted them to discover new worlds through books the way that I did as a child. I know not every child is born with a love of books. In fact, I know some kids can’t stand to read!
What can you do when your child pushes back and doesn’t want to read? What if your child is falling behind other children and can’t make heads or tails of reading?
There are countless ways to instill in your child a love of reading. Here are a few of my favorites:
1) Read good books to your child from the time they’re babies. Sit with your child and read. Find books you can laugh about together. If a book is boring to you, then it’s probably boring to your child. There are so many fantastic children’s books on the market. There’s no excuse for reading bad books!
2) Make the books your child wants to read available in your home. A good book is subjective. Some kids love fiction, and others only want to read non-fiction. If your child wants to read comic books, let him read comic books. If she wants to read about ducks, then books about ducks are great. My point is: let a child learn to love to read by reading the books he loves.
3) Read books yourself. Show your child how great reading is by modeling a love of reading. I read constantly – and my kids know it. I talk about books with them – and show them that whenever I want to learn something, I read up about it first. They know that I love stories, and that reading is a great passion of mine.
4) Give your child incentives. Back when Paprika was learning to read, it was very hard to get her to read books. She was frustrated and gave up easily. I wanted her to learn to read so badly because I knew that once she could read, a whole new world would open up to her. I didn’t want to push her if she wasn’t ready. But I knew she was ready, and I was at the end of my rope with frustration.
Then, one night I came up with an idea for a 100 Book Challenge. I told her that if she read 100 books, I would take her to the Disney Store and let her pick out any stuffed animal she wanted! That’s how important her reading was to me. Before I started the reading challenge, it was hard to get Paprika to read one book per night to me. But that first night we started the 100 Book Challenge…she read me eight books. Eight!
5) Don’t push your child to read before she’s ready. Some kids read early and some start later – and both are okay! Many studies now are saying that reading later is not only fine – but great. If your child is frustrated reading – it’s okay to pause and come back to it later. If your child pushes ahead and wants to start reading at an early age, that’s okay, too. Listen to your child and let him lead the way.
6) Audio books and read-alouds are fantastic ways to instill a love of reading in a child who can’t yet read. Consider audio books for the car and for night-time listening. We love to listen to children’s books on long car-rides, and we have many audio books we listen to as the girls fall asleep. Paprika (age 7) especially loves to listen to Story of the World as she falls asleep – and the bonus is, I get to count it as her history lesson, too!
7) Get rid of your television. I know I shouldn’t say that because my husband works in the television industry…and that’s what pays our bills! But, seriously – not having a television in our house means that other things – like books – become much more exciting. We haven’t had a television in our house for 7 years, and even before that, it wasn’t hooked up to broadcast stations (we just used it for dvds). Our girls can watch movies on the computer from time to time – and they do! But not having a television has taken away the distraction (the noise) of a constant stream of information. And in its place are stacks of books!
8) Visit the library. I know – revolutionary, right?! But seriously, I can’t tell you how often I’m at the library and no one is there! Just go. The books are free. You can discover all the books you want – the good and the bad – and not have to pay a dime for it. Well, unless you have late fees…like we do! 😉
9) Consider reading apps for your child. In our house, we love FarFaria and Reading Rainbow for reading books on the iPad. I was not paid to say this – but one thing I love about subscription based reading Apps is that your child has access to hundreds of books for the price of the purchase of just one book.
For example, if I were to buy all the books available on the FarFaria or Reading Rainbow Apps, I’d go broke! But as it is, my girls read hundreds of their books. If they don’t like a book? No biggie- they move on to the next book! It’s a great, low-pressure way for kids to read books in a format they love.
Ginger (age 4), who is not yet a strong reader, loves being read to by these Apps. It’s so easy and simple. I know paper books are great and many parents don’t want their kids on an iPad or Tablet computer. I get it. But I also know that for my kids, they have been so inspired to read many books by these simple little Apps.
I would love to sit and read to my children for hours each day (and sometimes I do). But let’s face it – I have a toddler tornado to chase after every day. So, the fact that these Apps offer the choice to be read to is fantastic. It’s a great addition to our reading library.
10) Provide your child with books. Period. I read this article awhile ago that said that the best predictor of a child’s success in school is the presence of TWO specific items of furniture in a family’s home. And the two items are the same items.
Can you guess what these items are? Bookshelves. Yes, if your home has two bookshelves your child is statistically much more likely to succeed in school.
There are so many amazing ways to provide you child with books, even if you have a very limited budget. Obviously, the library is a great place. And, I buy a TON of my kids’ books on Amazon (used) and I also buy books on Ebay, believe it or not! I got the whole Dr. Seuss library a few years’ back on Ebay for a steal. Here is the post I wrote about that and a few other great kids’ reading book lots I bought on Ebay – all for a fraction of the price of retail.
You could also book swap with another family, or go to Library Sales. The point is: get books into your home, in any way that you can. Leave books around for your kids to find.
Let them fall in love with reading and they’ll never stop learning their whole lives long.
To read more posts in this series, find me here.