Note from Chip:
We, as most parents, want our children to be enthusiastic readers at a young age – because we believe there to be SO MANY benefits that follow from kids being strong readers.
In one of our earlier posts (Reading to Earn – 8 Benefits of Children Reading Books & Why We PAY them to Read) we confessed to actually PAYING our children to read. Yes, it is true, we really do. (And for the record – I think we are OVERLY generous – paying them $5 /book!)
The purpose of this post is to delve deeper into ways (other than paying them) to encourage children to read (& write)… and there is no one more qualified than my wonderful wife to cover this critically important topic! Melani is both a certified teacher in New York and has her Masters of Science in Literacy Education (MSEd) (birth through grade 12). I hope you enjoy her post!
Better Parenting Tips – 9 Ways to Encourage Your Children to LOVE Reading!
Teaching children to become literate and lovers of reading ( & writing) is one of my passions. In fact, it is why I chose to become a teacher in the first place! It is also what drove me to get my Master’s degree in Literacy and choose “The Benefits of Reading Aloud to Children” as the topic of my final thesis in graduate school.
I often feel as though I do so many things wrong as a mom! However, when it comes to encouraging our kids to read, this is one area of parenting in which I feel very proud of myself!
I have read aloud to our children since they were babies, and I still read aloud to them today. In fact, it is one of my favorite things to do with them! When I’m reading to the kids I feel connected with them, and it is our special time. (I loved reading aloud to my students when I was a teacher, too).
I read picture books, novels, magazines, poems, and devotionals to the kids – pretty much on a daily basis. We really try to make reading FUN in our house! The kids love when I go completely off script and make up my own stories, or my husband heavily embellishes a story with his wild imagination and sense of humor. Many times the kids actually BEG us for these stories!
We visit the library frequently, and, to the children, it’s like a trip to the candy store! They get so excited browsing the shelves and finding new books to read. We usually leave with a bag full! Most of the time, they begin looking through their books while in the car, and then get right to reading them when we arrive home.
Bedtime is welcome, as it is a time to snuggle up under their comforter with their stuffed animals and reading light, and read the fun books that they picked out. It’s a calm, peaceful activity that helps them fall asleep easily…although sometimes they get so engrossed in their book, that we have to tell them to turn off their book light and go to sleep!
The kids also love writing their own stories, poems, and cards. They play school and make their own worksheets and write essays. They read to their little sister and stuffed animals. They write play scripts, and then act them out.
Their use of writing conventions truly impresses me! They are taught them in school, but they no doubt also learn them, without realizing it, by reading books and picking up on the author’s use of conventions, sentence and story structure, plot, etc. They know how to draw readers into their writing, because they have had multitude experiences with many authors that do it very successfully.
Writing isn’t a daunting task for them, but rather something enjoyable and rewarding.
9 Ways to Encourage Reading (& Writing)!
All children are unique, and learn in different ways and at different paces…but these are some ideas that I believe will help your child become a more confident and competent reader and writer.
1) Read Aloud to Your Children
- Myriad of benefits! Children of all ages enjoy this–especially when the reader reads with fluency, expression, enthusiasm and HUMOR! They will be engaged!
- When books are shared in this way, children can be introduced to books above their reading comprehension level. In most cases their listening comprehension level is significantly higher than their reading comprehension level!
- Through reading aloud, children learn new vocabulary words and concepts.
- Listening to stories read aloud stimulates their imagination, creativity and stokes their enthusiasm for reading!
- This shared experience presents many great points for discussion between the reader and child. It is a wonderful way to form a connection with your child– It connects the reader and listener in a very intimate way.
- When you read aloud to your kids, it sends them a message that they are important, and that you value this time with them!
2) Devote Time to Silent Reading Daily
- When reading becomes part of their everyday routine, children are more apt to become lifelong readers.
- The more practice children have reading, the better readers they will become. They will read more fluently and develop more confidence in themselves as readers.
- They will learn new vocabulary words (by using context clues, asking an adult for understanding, consulting a dictionary/computer), learn new concepts, and become better writers in the process!
- They will begin to pick up on unfamiliar concepts, such as quotation mark and other punctuation usage, sentence/paragraph structure, ways authors draw readers into the story and develop characters, plot, etc.
- They are building a background of text experiences and context that they can transfer to their writing.
3) Model Reading & Writing (Let Them SEE You Reading & Writing!)
- Children are more likely to develop good reading and writing habits when they see a parent enjoying reading & writing. Parents who want their children to be good readers and writers need to be good reading and writing role models.
- Read a book, magazine, or cookbook silently while your child is reading.
- Write lists of things that need to be done, grocery lists, goals, thank you notes, cards.
- Children will see that being literate is a vital skill for everyday life in society, is extremely useful, and can be fun, too!
4) Visit The Library Frequently–Make it Fun & a Reward!
- Regular library visits inevitably lead to more reading. While you can take your child to a bookstore, most people are on a budget and have to put a cap on spending. At a library, your child can take home however many books he can carry, from a wide variety of interests. Then, when he has read all of those, he can return them and pick out a whole other assortment. It can feel like Christmas to them!
- When children are excited about their reading material, they will be more engaged and additional learning will go along with it.
5) Have Lots of Books at Home
- When possible, have a variety of reading materials throughout the house. These can include books on loan from the library. When a child has some time during the day, he can read or browse through a book or magazine.
- More reading equals more literacy development. Encourage your child to look through a cookbook to help you find recipes, and then follow the steps to make it together. Help your child read the directions for a game, and then play it.
- Read a story together, have engaging books such as almanacs and world records around–children tend to enjoy these, and they can pick them up and read in any order.
6) Subscribe to a Magazine (Physical or Electronic)
- Children will most likely get excited when a new magazine just for them arrives in the mail. He/she can read it in any order and read small snippets at a time. There are usually interesting pictures involved and age appropriate / relevant articles. Many magazines are now available electronically, too…try it out to see if they offer the same appeal as a tangible copy. (Note: Many libraries have magazine collections that are available for free – using apps such as Flipster)
7) Read a Book & Watch the Movie…and Then Compare The Two
- In my opinion, it is best to read the story first, then watch the movie. When reading a story, we form pictures of characters and events in our heads. We visualize the characters based on the vivid details in the book. There is always more detail, characterization, and background information in books. If we see the movie first, and then read the story, we often can’t help picturing the characters and events as they were depicted in the movie.
- When you do watch the movie, after reading the book, it is fun for the children to have background information about what is to come. They feel as though they are in on a secret!
8) Read the Same Books Your Kids Do
- It’s exciting for children to have a parent read the same book that they enjoyed reading. You can talk about it together and form a special connection based on your shared experience.
9) Encourage Writing–Get Thoughts Down on Paper–Don’t Get Caught Up on Spelling
- Reading & writing go hand-in-hand, as do reading stories and TELLING stories! Both activities (reading & writing) engage the same language processing centers of the brain – and encouraging writing can lead to both an increased language proficiency & interest in reading!
- Children shouldn’t feel that their spelling and punctuation have to be perfect at first. This could greatly hinder their thought process and imagination. Of course, correct spelling and grammar are important in writing, but these things can be part of the editing process. It is important for children to get their ideas down on paper so their ideas will not be lost. Then, later, they can refine them. Don’t let punctuation get in the way of them developing a passion for writing!
The main point I want to get across, is that you need to demonstrate to your children daily that literacy is empowering, and make reading (& writing) fun! If you read & write often with your children, and if you let them see that YOU enjoy reading & writing, you will see your children emerge as more confident and competent readers & writers at an earlier age.
- Better Parenting Tips on How do I get my kids to read more books?
- Strategies to encourage your kids to read more.
- How to get your kids to love reading!
- Promoting literacy in children.
- Modeling good reading habits for kids.
- Ways to get your kids reading books.
- What parents can do to get their kids reading more.
- Getting kids excited about reading!
- When kids can’t read.