We are all aware that today, most children are so much more interested in watching television for hours, playing video games throughout the night, and gossiping on the Internet than they are in reading.
According to recent figures from the U.S. Department of Education, children are spending an average of four to six hours daily watching TV or movies; and that’s before the Coronavirus pandemic.
It has been proven, time and time again, that children who read achieve.
They do better in school and in life.
“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” – Frederick Douglass
Children who read tend to accomplish higher test and exam scores more often than their peers who read less often. However, getting children to simply open a book can sometimes be very tricky for parents and teachers alike.
Realize this, it is never too soon to get your child on the path to reading.
The U.S. Department of Education recommend that parents begin to read to their baby when they are six months old. The reason being, that hearing words over and over, time and time again, help them become familiar with those words.
Reading to your baby is one of the best ways to help them learn.
You can start by simply spending some time talking to your infant and toddler thereby helping them to develop the vocabulary they will need to enter school and begin to read.
And, in due course, as you point to and name the objects around them, they will start to understand and associate the words with the objects. In a short while, they will eventually begin to add those words into her vocabulary.
If, after a while, after a few years, you come to the conclusion that your child is showing little to no interest in reading, relax, there is hope.
“There are many little ways to enlarge your world. Love of books is the best of all.” – Jacqueline Kennedy
Sometimes parents have to be creative and get a little sneaky. You can still turn your reluctant child into a reader.
The following 10 tips can help parents get their most stubborn children to read year-round:
1. Make the words come alive
When you read to children, pick a book that has large print. Point at each word as you read it. This way your child will recognize and understand that the word being spoken is the word they see.
And to add to that, did you know that a child’s love for reading can grow when the words come to life? After reading, go out and share that experience as a family.
This can create a deeper family bond, and has the added power of putting the words into visual context.
What do I mean?
If you are reading to your child a book on bunny rabbits, go to a pet shop. Let your child see the rabbits, recite a few words from the book as you point to the rabbits.
This creates a powerful combination; the child can relate to what they’re hearing and seeing; making reading as fun as possible.
2. Read to open long-term dialogue
One of the best things you can do to ensure that your child will grow up reading well and loving to read is to read to them every day.
As we said earlier, reading together will create a special and strong bond between the two of you.
And this has an extremely important added benefit that will help them open the doors for a dialogue that will continue throughout the more trying years of adolescence.
The U. S. Department of Education suggests that, when parents read to children, it is important that they take the time to discuss new words.
Take the time to explain what each new word means and do your best to include as much sensory methods as you can; sight, hearing, touching.
“Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.” – Margaret Fuller
3. Listen to your child
When parents spend time talking and reading to children, they should also take the time to listen to their children.
This will help their children get ready to read faster.
When you read and talk to your child use sounds, gestures, songs, and even words that rhyme to help your child learn about language and its many uses. Inspire your child to do the same and be attentive to them.
This is vital.
There’s nothing worse than a child feeling they are being ignored.
When you go out with your child to the supermarket, practice pointing out the printed words there; you can point to a fruit, and ask your child what that fruit is and ask them to spell it and talk about it for a minute.
4. Never leave home without it
Take some books with you wherever you go. You never know when your child gets excited to read, and when they do, cherish the moment, and take full advantage of it.
Of course, this can also be beneficial at times when you don’t wish to be disturbed, so by handing over a book to your child it gives them fun activities to do to entertain themselves with, and it keeps them occupied while you’re driving, chatting with friends, or running errands.
5. Keep the books within easy reach
A well as creating a quiet, special place in your home for your child to read, write, and draw, make it a point to keep the books and all other reading materials within easy reach of your child.
Perhaps you can provide your child with their own bookshelf or small bookcase. This will not only make them feel special, but it will also communicate to them that reading is special.
An added bonus could be you reaching out for a book on their shelf for you to read in front of the child. This way the child can see that you are also reading, and this will make them realize that reading is important.
“So please, oh PLEASE, we beg, we pray, Go throw your TV set away, And in its place you can install, A lovely bookshelf on the wall.” – Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
6. Read a favorite book over and over again
Get into the habit of recognizing your child’s favorite books, and read them over and over again. Repetition has the power of making the words sink in further and further into the child’s mind.
Also, you can think of ways to make it more fun each time you read that favorite book.
Time and time again, read the stories that have rhyming words and lines that repeat, and have your child join in the fun.
7. Provide encouragement
Parents play a crucial role by reading to children, and this greatly affects the child’s education. Children whose parents encourage them to read are more likely to read far more books than those parents leave reading up to them.
Encourage your child to read as often as possible, without pressurizing them, as this may put them off reading. Reading to children requires tactical persuasion, and getting children to read by themselves requires creative encouragement.
“Reading without reflecting is like eating without digesting.” – Edmund Burke
8. The early bedtime trick
Here’s a great coaxing approach that many successful parents have used in the past to read to children. Set your child’s bedtime to be 30 minutes before lights out.
Allow them time to perform all the before bedtime duties; such as brushing their teeth, getting into their pajamas, saying their good-nights to others, using the bathroom, and so on.
Once done, let them happily hop into bed, and then you open their favorite book, or book of their choice, and you read to them.
This is to be done before their official lights out bedtime.
After that, simply smile and say, “It’s time for bed, now. Would you like lights out, or would you like to stay up and read for a bit longer?”
More often than not, unless the child is particularly tired, they’ll choose to read awhile longer. This way they think it’s their idea (powerful, huh!).
Allow the child to choose whichever book they like to read until the time comes where you kiss them and bid them a goodnight and turn the lights out.
9. Summer reading enticement
Where possible, sign up for a local summer reading club at your local library, or arrange to read with your neighbors’ children out in the back garden. Have them take turns reading to children that are present (some love to show off their reading skills).
On a rainy summer’s day, with the advanced technology of these days, you can always have your child read to their grandmother and grandfather via the Internet.
If your local library is closed, or your child doesn’t want to be cooped indoors, you can always take them out to a close park, lay a blanket on the grass and read to each other.
Practice the art of parents reading to children, then children reading to parents.
Think of ways you and your child, and other children, can have fun with it.
“I believe we should spend less time worrying about the quantity of books children read and more time introducing them to quality books that will turn them on to the joy of reading and turn them into lifelong readers.” – James Patterson
10. Read the entire book before you see the movie
If your child is keen to see a particular movie, get the book and have the child read it first before you take them to the movie.
Make it a ‘rule’ that you do not take them to the movie until they’ve read the entire book.
This will encourage them to read, and the added bonus is that they may understand the movie more because they read the book with you, and you, more than likely, added life to it; explaining things the child didn’t understand.
There you have your 10 reading to children tips that you need to learn and implement now, or at least, as soon as possible.
Reading is very important for children. It prepares them for adulthood.
Reading is a prerequisite to success and perhaps everything in life.
If you think about it, in all areas of life, there is something to read: Road signs, food labels, newspapers, prescription labels, letters/emails from banks or work. We are all surrounded with things to read.
We cannot avoid reading… Period.
“Reading should not be presented to children as a chore, a duty. It should be offered as a gift.” – Kate DiCamillo
Do your best, make it one of your life’s missions, to turn your children into avid readers.
The more methods that you can combine into your child’s reading experience, the more likely you are to help your child grow into a strong reader.
Always, constantly think of ways to infuse into your child that reading is fun. And, for you as a parent, remember that you can never be too old, too wacky, or too wild to pick up a book and read it with your child.
Reading to children is a must in every household.
“Stories are the most important thing in the world. Without stories, we wouldn’t be human beings at all.”
Hani Al-Qasem is a published author, a Certified EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) Practitioner, and inspiration specialist.
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