10 Tips for Raising Readers
1. Read aloud to them.
It’s never too early to start, there is no good reason to stop and you can’t possibly do it too much! Even when your kids are proficient readers, there are
books above their reading level that are still appropriate to be shared, and some stories are just plain more meaningful when you read them aloud together.
Make reading part of your routine.
When reading is part of your family’s routine, it becomes a child’s healthy habit. It is as natural and satisfying as a meal. Whether you choose morning books, naptime books, afternoon books or bed time books, when certain times of the day have always included reading, it doesn’t feel like reading is an infringement on time otherwise spent.
3. Use your library.
If your son loves construction or your daughter is obsessed with bugs, I challenge you to walk in your door holding 30 books about their main interest. Watch their excitement for reading explode before your eyes and note the impression your gesture made on him or her. Visiting the library is wonderful for kids, and reserving books from your home or work computer has its place, too.
You can make quick work of refreshing your home library by choosing books by subject or author from your library’s website and running the quick errand to pick them up when they’re in.
4. Read passionately.
Use silly voices, make faces, exaggerate your tone and let your own enthusiasm and suspense show. Don’t rush it. Savor the story and the illustrations if applicable. Pause and ask what they think is going to happen next! When you do these things you are modeling good reading and encouraging reading comprehension for your listener.
5. Get your kids hooked on stories.
Help your kids appreciate a good story. Share memories from their childhoods or your own with them!
Make up a story or relate a funny or endearing moment from your day in story form. Grandparents, aunts and uncles are a good resource to tap for help with this!
6. Find reading opportunities everywhere.
Kids naturally want to help with adult tasks from a young age. Instead of pointing to the buttons on your dishwasher, washer or dryer for your little one to push, try spelling the words out and have them find the right one. They will get used to looking for letter combinations. When you’re baking together, examine the back of the cake mix box with your child. Ask where they think it explains how many eggs to add. Knowing how to navigate instructions like that is a great pre-reading skill. So is brand and logo recognition! In the car you can ask what stores they see as you pass.
7. Demonstrate that reading is valued in your home
Do this by making sure that books are plentiful and readily accessible in different rooms of your home.
Build a home library and respect your books by taking good care of them and handing down outgrown titles to younger children. Give books as gifts, within your family and to others. Model reading for pleasure by letting them see you enjoy books on your own.
8. Help your child make their own book.
I have never met a child that isn’t full of stories! Use a notebook and basic art supplies to let them write, or dictate, their very own story. Add illustrations too!
9. Use technology.
Use websites or apps such as Starfall and ABC Mouse when your child is learning computer skills. Set them up with an e-mail address and give their spelling words to grandparents so they can drop a few in a message to their grandchild!
10. Use books to research their questions.
Children have virtually everything still to learn about their world and their capacity for understanding expands exponentially from year to year. Resist the urge to Google everything and instead agree to “look it up,” in the old sense of the phrase, and follow through! Go to an atlas, a globe, the non-fiction section of your favorite bookstore or local library and teach them the art of finding just what they’re looking for. They’ll need that skill someday and in the physical process of finding their own answers, they’ll realize that reading opens up the world to them.
If they can read well, they can teach themselves anything.