Have you ever noticed children who seem to have a genuine love of reading? It is so inspiring to see a child choose a book over a movie and watch their eyes light up when they receive the gift of a new book! Have you ever wondered if children are just born “loving to read”?
I am not a gambler, but I WOULD wager that environment plays a huge role in a child’s attitude toward books. We often wish our children would read more, but we make things so much more difficult than they need to be. In order for children to choose books, we must make books readily available AND appealing to them.
Here are some great tips from moms whose children LOVE to read:
1. Begin reading to your infant. Babies need that receptive language. YOU may not be able to see the benefits, but there ARE benefits. In addition to reading simple books, describe routine tasks as you are doing them such as changing his diaper, wiping his mouth, and preparing his bath. Your baby needs to hear your voice throughout the day.
2. Allow your infant and toddler to handle books that are mouth-friendly. It’s okay for them to put books in their mouths – this is how they explore.
3. Continue to describe a toddler’s world to her. Read books with pictures of real things in her everyday world. Let her hold the book. She loves repetition, so she will want to read the same books over and over. Remember, she is entering into the first stages of independence, and she wants to be in control. Put the books at her level so that she can choose what she wants to read.
4. Keep books handy for ALL ages. Remember that reading can be a big part of EVERY area of a child’s world. Here are some great tips on how to infuse your child’s world with books:
a. Keep books in the car. Encourage your child to read instead of watching a movie while riding. Offer books that relate to things that he might see while riding. Find things in the book and look for similar things in the real world.
b. Keep a basket of books by the back door and allow your child to read outdoors. Nothing is more relaxing than reading with the warmth of the sunlight on your skin or a cool breeze on your face.
c. Keep books that are waterproof by the bathtub. Yes, publishers make bath time books! You have a captive audience so read stories while your child is in the tub.
d. Keep books at your child’s fingertips throughout your home, not just in her room. Make books available in the kitchen so that your child can read while you prepare a meal, in the family room to encourage reading as a family, in the bathroom, etc.
e. Pack books when you travel – even for short distances. Rent new books from the library or buy new titles as a surprise. If your child is old enough, purchase a book about your destination and read it with him.
f. Have books available on subjects that each of your children enjoys or shows a keen interest in.
g. Reward what you want to see repeated – offer an incentive if you are having trouble inspiring your child to read. Sometimes children just need something to get them started.
Written by Donna McClintock, COO with Children’s Choice Learning Center, Inc.