Some kids take to books like a fish takes to water. They love it, dive in, and get lost in its pages. But for some, love of reading doesn’t come naturally. Perhaps they’re more interested in math or social sciences, or simply don’t find it interesting.
No matter the reason, one thing is for sure: reading is the foundation that all other subjects are built upon. So, how do you instill a love for reading in your child? Like with most things–start early!
Start ‘em Young
When reading is integrated into a child’s life at a young age, they technically don’t know a life without it. There’s no better way to encourage a love of reading than to start right from the beginning.
Reading to a child can start the minute you bring that darling baby home; there’s no need to wait until your baby is big enough to sit on your lap. Your baby is laying on his or her play-gym batting at a dangling toy? Read a book. Your baby is happily laying in the crib just soaking in the world around them? Pull out a book. Squeezing in a pumping session while your baby is in the bouncer? You guessed it–open a book.
It doesn’t matter if the book is as simple as Goodnight Moon or as complicated as the one you’re reading yourself. Filling your newborn’s ears with words (and your voice) enriches their vocabulary, memory, and teaches them early communication skills. Yep, that young..
Picture books are an excellent way to encourage a passion for reading–specifically at a young age. Looking at the pictures encourages conversation and questions as you make your way through the book together.. Point to the pictures and tell what you see. Even better–ask them what they see! Added bonus? Quality time together.
Books of this genre are usually sing-songy and rhyming, which is great for memory-building and attention span. Plus, as they get older and memorize the words, these types of books also boost confidence!
Let’s go to the library!
Yes, that train set at the library is, in fact, sometimes more fun than a book. But whatever gets them there, right? The library is a great place to nurture a child’s love of reading. Unless you have an endless supply of books at home, the library provides a plethora of different types of books. The more genres that are available at their fingertips, the better the chance of them finding a genre or book that they enjoy.
To boot, libraries also have story times for children of all ages. These story times make the book come to life–not to mention that everyone loves a good read aloud. During story times, children get to share in and experience a book together. If children see other children love and engage in reading, this will give them a natural curiosity towards it.
Another tip? Make the library more fun by getting your child his or her own library bag, having him or her find the books themselves, and then handing over the library card to them to check the books out. This will give them a sense of ownership over the books he or she chose and they’ll be able to take them home with pride.
Find a Book That’s Right for Them
No one wants to read a book about a subject they don’t love–kids included. One of the main issues with a lack of passion for reading has to do with a child not reading at their level or reading something they don’t have an interest in. They want to read that sci-fi series for the fifth time in a row that you’re sick of looking at and hearing about? Let ‘em.
Be sure the books your child is picking out are not only interesting to them, but age and level-appropriate. A book that’s too challenging for them can result in frustration and comprehension troubles, while a book that’s too easy for them to read can result in boredom.
It’s important to find that happy medium between readable and challenging. Ideally, your child should find books at or slightly above his or her own reading level, as this is the best way to promote fluency.
Make Books a Part of Daily Life
If you seamlessly incorporate books into your family’s everyday life, reading will seem like “something you just do” rather than something you have to do.
How do you do this? Simply hand them a book at the table while you’re making their lunch. Model reading at home yourself by designating family reading times where you all take thirty minutes of quiet time to read. Ask your children to write a letter to Santa for a book at Christmas, or give them one each year for their birthday instead of a card.
Another tip? Make books available to them in every room of the house. When a child is surrounded by reading and books, they are more likely to pick one up and start reading–and hey, maybe even love it!
Books, Audiobooks, Plays, and Yes—We Said It—Movies
Impart a love of reading by experiencing books through different mediums. Try an audiobook of a favorite book you read in your house (thank you, library!) Turn it on during road trips or a quick trip to town instead of listening to music or silence.
More of the active type? Don’t be afraid to let the books you read with your child come to life! Set up a mini stage and act out a book you recently read or a family favorite. Mix things up a bit by changing characters or even the ending!
And sure, go to the movies. If a book becomes a movie, encourage the entire family to read it together and then treat yourselves to a family movie night. Popcorn is also a must.
Kids’ Book Club
This one is fun! Host a kids’ book club that meets once a month. Provide copies of the book, snacks, and fun worksheets and discussion questions they can talk about together. Sign up for a Tiny Humans Read box to make this process even easier!
If that all sounds too complicated, kids will simply love to gather around together with their own copies of the book and hear each other talk about it. What a better way to build communication skills and friendship than through a love of a common book? This makes reading fun and enjoyable and is a sure-fire way to instill a love of reading in your child.
Fill out that log!
Still having trouble uncovering that passion for reading? Prevent the summer slump by creating a reading log for your child–with incentives. It’s okay to think extrinsically with this. Providing rewards and small prizes for your child is a fun way to encourage a love for reading.
Of course, think more along the lines of longevity with this one–prizes at the end of the week after reading thirty minutes a day, or a reward after reading a certain amount of days in a row. Encourage the stamina behind it. You know your child best–be sure the reading log is attainable and realistic for their passion level.
Keep Reading Out Loud
Continue to read out loud to your children, no matter how old they are or if you think they’re “beyond” it. Studies show that reading out loud is beneficial at any age. Yes–even college-aged kids.
Though this takes time on your end, this provides an incredible chance to ask your child questions, bond with them over a book, and get a feel for where they’re at in their reading journey. And hey–you might learn something, too!