12 Tips to encourage your child to read
Thursday, 12 September 2013
1. It's never too early. You can read to your baby whilst it's in utero. The sound of your voice will be comforting and you yourself may find it relaxing, and a way to bond with baby before they're even born. Once baby is born, read to them, It doesn't matter if they don't appear to show any attention. Just read. It encourages and creates a quiet place and time to relax and just be with mum or dad. Let them explore the books, there's some fabulously tactile books available even if they just chew that amazing board book you got them, let them.
2. Have plenty of books. We have hundreds. Literally. With places like Pound shops, Home Bargains, The Book People and second hand shops there really is no excuse to not have a heap of books.
3. Make them easily accessible. We have toy tubs filled with books so when toddlers they can rummage through, pick their own...sometimes half the fun is in the choosing or rediscovering an old favourate under a pile of new ones. Make them a natural part of everyday life, utilise bath books and buggy books. If you babywear you can attach buggy books to your sling.
4. Toddlers often enjoy word books, insofar as to say books full of pictures of things around the home or in nature etc where they can point at an item and you can name it. As they get older they have so much fun 'seeking' things on the page you name. Rhyming books are also a favourate where they can often finish the last word of the sentence from memory.
5. Let them see you read. Children like to emulate adults.
6. Use subtitles. As Things One and Two learned to read they'd subconsciously read the subtitles on the television, something we usually leave on permanently because of the noise The Spawn make. This way they are actually reading whilst doing something else they enjoy, watching tv, thus giving it another positive association.
7. Unless what you are doing is absolutely 100% time critical urgent, never ever say no if your child asks you to read them a book. Put your phone down, turn off the laptop, lower the volume on the tv. Focus that moment on being with your child and sharing the book. Cuddle them, laugh with them....enjoy the story with them.
8. Ask questions. Ask them about the story, about the characters and the pictures. Let them try and guess what will happen next or let them think about why something happened before. Ask them about their favourite part. If a character is happy/sad ask the child why they think that is. Point out colours and details. Involve them in the story.
9. Remember it doesn't matter what they read, reading is reading. Forget about the books they 'should' be reading according to whoareyou et al. Whether it's road signs, magazines, the Argos catalogue or the back of a cereal box, it's all reading. Better still, it's natural curiosity fuelled reading. They're doing it because they can and because they want to. Encourage it all. Discover what they're interested in, be it cars or Moshi Monsters and feed their interest with associated literature.
10. Never treat reading as a chore. The more you try and make someone do something, the less likely they are to ever want to do it. The key to successful reading is to ensure it's something they want to do and better still, like doing. Never force it. Personally we don't believe in homework for infants, they spend enough time at school without having to bring it home. Don't tell your child they have to read that night, ask them if they'd like to. Tell them you enjoy doing it with them. Ask them if you can do it together Show interest in what they're learning to read and again ask questions about it that they can answer. Children like feeling knowledgeable, they like the novelty of teaching you something. Respect them if they don't want to read right now. It's really okay.
11. They're never too old to be read a story. Why not take it in turns to read a page/chapter each to unwind after a busy day, snuggle up and enjoy the closeness it can bring whilst you discover a story together, share the anticipation for the next instalment.
12. Finally, limit technology. Seriously. It's unnecessary. I'm not saying ban it, yet there is no need for young children to possess phones, consoles and the like. Let them have limited access to your laptop or pc, to explore Google etc, it's still reading and is a fun way for them to get answers to their many questions and expand their general knowledge of the world around them. Let them be children and use their imagination. To understand the magic of writing and reading. Provide them with the tools, plenty of books, pens and paper. You'll soon find them devouring novels in their rooms and writing their own. A video game or tablet is only a gift until the next upgrade is available. Letting a child organically nurture their own imagination through books however, is a gift for life.