10 Tips to Help Raise a Reader
Reading books to children is one of the most important things you can do to promote literacy development—but why stop there? In addition to just regurgitating the words on the page, try these creative strategies to foster your kids’ love of reading.
- Add a little playacting. Instead of just reciting the same old story, improvise a little. Don’t be afraid to deviate from what’s on the page. Incorporate different accents for the characters, add drama with theatrical hand gestures, build anticipation by including pauses, and let the emotions of the story register on your face.
- Encourage interaction. When reading to your preschooler, pause every now and then to ask questions about the story, wonder aloud about alternate endings, or propose new character names.
- Talk about books. The benefits of reading to children don’t have to stop after you’ve closed the book. After sharing a story together, bring it up in conversation throughout the day. Compare a real-life event to something that happened in the book, or ask how they think a certain character would handle a specific situation. Incorporate key vocabulary that was presented in the book, so your child gets an idea of how the words fit into different contexts.
- Introduce books in new scenarios. Why wait until bedtime to pull out a book? For babies and toddlers, bath times and mealtimes provide great opportunities for enjoying a story.
- Consider joining a book club for children. With the overwhelming number of kids’ books on the market, it can seem like a daunting task to select the ones that are right for your child. When you join a book club for children, you’ll receive hand-picked titles tailored to your kids’ ages and interests. Getting shipments of high-quality children's books delivered right to your doorstep is a great way to encourage excitement about reading.
- Explore reading resources for children. The Internet offers an abundance of children's Web sites with creative ideas for promoting early literacy, fun literacy games, and reading tools for children.
- Encourage reading outside of books. Throughout a typical day, there are hundreds of opportunities to recognize words and phrases. Challenge your child to find new mediums for reading, whether it’s a billboard, newspaper, cereal box, or storefront sign. This will help your child grasp the significance of reading in the real world and give him a chance to apply what he’s learned.
- Introduce your own childhood favorites. Remember those timeless classics you couldn’t get enough of as a kid? Bring them back into the limelight by reading them to your own child. Your excitement for those old beloved stories is sure to rub off on your little one.
- Volunteer your reading services. If your child is of school age (or even in daycare), reading aloud to his class is an excellent way to foster his love of books and to demonstrate your support and commitment to his reading success. Most daycare centers, preschools, and elementary schools welcome parent volunteers.
- Take field trips to the library. The library is an invaluable reading resource. Acquaint your budding reader with the book loaning process, emphasizing a respect for the facility and the books. Many libraries feature designated story hours, where a librarian reads selections aloud to a targeted age group. Check with your local branch for more activities to promote reading.
The importance of reading to children can’t be disputed. By utilizing literacy resources for children, incorporating books as part of your child’s everyday routine, and looking for creative ways to promote reading, you’ll be giving your youngster a head start toward academic success and a rich, vivid imagination.