Friday, May 5, 2017

Parenting Pointers: 5 Creative Ways to Feed Your Child's Love of Reading

Getting your kids to love getting lost in a good book or to simply love the process of reading can have many benefits for them as they grow.  Regular reading exposes us to new things, it improves memory and it expands the vocabulary (just to name a few).   But unfortunately, reading has a lot of competition these days.  Most kids have almost unlimited access to television, movies, games, apps and more that keep them entertained with brilliant colors, loud music and wild stories.

Couple that with the fact that reading is a mandatory homework assignment for most kids every night and it can almost feel like reading is a punishment as opposed to a joy (there aren’t many kids out there who simply can’t wait to dive into their homework…).  If you’re a parent who is struggling when it comes to getting your kids to pick up and enjoy a book, here are a few strategies you can employ to help the process:

Get Started Early

Making reading a habit early in life helps make the transition much easier when kids are able to pick up their own books as they get older.  Read colorful, bright and interesting books to your kids at bath time, while potty training, during breakfast and before bed to build reading as a highly entertaining habit in their routine.

Make if Fun

Use funny voices, be animated and become the characters.  This holds true even as your children grow and are able to navigate early reader books on their own.  You can show them how fun a great story can be and how much the reader can be involved as the story unfolds, this will make them eager to dive into the next book and keep them excited about reading time.

Lead by Example

If you want your child to be a reader, you need to be a reader as well.  Kids learn by example and will be much more likely to pick up a book on their own if they see you doing the same.  If your eyes are constantly fixated on your smartphone or tablet or if you spend all of your time checking the latest updates on Facebook or Pinterest and never crack a novel - you can’t really expect your kids to want to choose a book over screen time. 

Don’t Make Reading a Chore

Teachers often assign reading homework in minutes, but standing over your kids while they read staring at your watch isn’t a way to make the process exciting - it makes it stressful.  There may be days that your child finishes a chapter or a book in 17 minutes when their assignment was to read for 20 minutes.  Don’t force the issue for the three additional minutes - as your child finds relatable books and favorite authors, you won’t have to watch the clock at all as they will likely read for much longer than they 15, 20 or 30 minutes assigned as they’ll be too immersed to put the book down.

Pick the Right Books

The library is loaded with books on just about any topic your child can think of - let them find the titles and subjects that are most appealing to them and bring home several for them to sample.  Kids are far more likely to really give a book a chance if the main character is like them, if the subject is something they love or if story appeals to their sense of wonder.

Regular trips to the library will help identify a favorite style of book (adventure, fantasy, non-fiction…) and/or a favorite series or author.  Having favorites helps kids not only get excited about the book they are currently reading, but about the next book they’ll get to pick up as well.

You can also help the process along by creating a personalized book that literally puts your child right into a story with their favorite character.  This is a great way to get a child who is in love with a specific Disney movie or character to expand that very same love to the written word.  Having your child appear as an integral part of a story will have them on the edge of their seat with each page turned.  Once you create that passion for reading, you can continue to build upon it with other Disney stories and adventure books until daily reading becomes their “go to” way to pass time.

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