It’s no secret that a love of reading is a major plus when it comes to your child’s development. Some kids take to reading and the joy of the adventures between the pages like a duck to water. If that is your kid, bravo! You are very lucky! However, many kids need a little more guidance and nurturing when it comes to developing this skill-enhancing passion. This is where we come in as parents, to gently steer our children towards a passion for books, without them seeing reading as one of many ‘chores for children’.
1) Be the role model Make your reading as well as their own a major focus in the family. Let them see you curling up and relaxing with a good book. Take time to read with them whenever you can, on a regular basis. If you make reading a routine activity every day, your children will come to love it. The classic ‘bedtime’ story can be a joyous time of learning and togetherness that parent and child look forward to at the end of the day. So, try to ensure you always make time for this, and that the environment is calm, relaxed, loving, and fun.
2) Availability By making sure that suitable, age-appropriate books are always around, you can boost your child’s love of reading. This can include fun and regular outings to your local library, where children can pick and choose books. There are many great resources for you to use to find new books and inspiration no matter your child’s age. The website www.readkiddoread.com provides excellent reading resources, grouped into suitable ages, as well as genres, such as illustrated, transitional, page-turners, and advanced lists. For a great South African book resource, try www.puku.co.za for local authors and stories. Sometimes, it can be harder to develop a love of books in young boys and the site www.guysread.com provides titles that are specifically geared towards boys’ interests.
3) Let them choose Allowing your children to choose their own books will ensure they get to read what they really want to. By letting them cultivate their own taste, they will be far more likely to gravitate toward reading naturally than seeing it as a chore. If your child loves a particular author, you can work to seek out more of their books together and build a collection, or at least read as many books by that author as you can lay your hands on. You can engage your child further by finding out about the author, researching them on the internet, signing up for their newsletter and possibly even writing a fan letter in the hope that they will get a reply from their favourite author!
4) Make books treasure If you have a love and healthy respect for books, your child will too! Give books as gifts, and help your child to see them as valuable items that open the doors to happiness, adventure, learning, and intrigue.
5) Allow your child to express their own thoughts Let your child have the space to talk about what they have read and express their thoughts. This enhances their communication and mental organisation skills as well as opens up opportunities for lively discussions. You can even go as far as to suggest writing a book review for a website, or creating stories of your own. The internet does not have to be the enemy of reading! A website like www.storybird.com is an excellent tool to encourage creativity by allowing children to ‘write’ their own stories with picture prompts, read other stories that have been written, and write reviews.
6) Stay relaxed and patient Any reading is better than no reading! So don’t stress if your child is not yet into long sessions of reading, or gets distracted easily. By keeping it relaxed and fun, your child will want to come back to his or her books again and again. If any task is forced to the point of resistance, it is difficult to promote the fun side, so keep it gentle, encouraging and light-hearted.
Have you found promoting a love of books a challenge or a cinch? What authors, series, and resources have you found helpful? We would love to hear about them, please tell us in the comments below!