MAKE READING A PART OF THEIR DAILY ROUTINEJust like brushing their teeth, kids have to practice reading daily before it becomes a habit. But instead of turning reading into a chore, make it the most entertaining part of their day. Reading is fun to kids when parents make it fun. So, whether it’s cuddling on the couch after school to read a story, or always reading them to sleep, find ways to make literature feel comfortable and inviting to your child. You can also replace some of the more common distractions with books. Instead of letting them use a tablet in the car, stock the backseat with some interesting reads instead. Even young toddlers can have fun flipping through hard-cover picture books, or baby books with rich colors and sensory-stimulating textures.
CHOOSE BOOKS ON SUBJECTS THEY LOVE
If you want to encourage a love of reading, let your child pick out books that excite them. At the bookstore, show them all the different types of books there are. You can also surprise them with some books with their favorite TV characters (many popular series have their own books as well), or stories about their favorite things — dinosaurs, princesses, and trucks, oh my!
LET THEM LISTEN TO AUDIOBOOKS
Audiobooks make for great read-alongs if your kid has their own copy of a book. If not, just listening to stories is still a wonderful way to encourage a love of reading. Play an audiobook while they play, or in the car on the way to school. At night, the family can sit together and enjoy listening to a story together.
BE A READING ROLE MODEL
You inspire your child more than you may even realize. Children are highly perceptive, and they’re always modeling the actions of adults in their lives. When it comes to making reading fun, show them how much you enjoy it yourself.
Instead of scrolling through social media on the couch, spend an afternoon enjoying a good book. Physical beat digital copies in this instance. Opting for a physical book sends a much stronger message to your child.
CREATE A COZY BOOK NOOK
Make a safe space for your child that encourages them to find calm. Even the most rambunctious toddlers need a place to relax and decompress for a while. A book nook is a great place to make them feel safe and ready to jump into a book. Think plush cushions, some plushie reading pals, and even some fun reading lights (just make sure they’re secured from curious hands).
You can also turn the book nook into a place where you both spend extra one-on-one time together. Maybe you gather there for a rainy Saturday read-a-thon, or you pass an hour every evening flipping through their collection. The beauty of a book nook is that it will change and grow alongside your child.
BUILD A DIVERSE BOOKSHELF
Diversity inspires curiosity! The more unique faces, voices, and stories await, the more excited your child will be to read. We know that today, representation is crucial in childhood development. Seeing differences — whether they’re physical, geographic, or cultural — have profound influences on children’s socioemotional development.
What’s more, diversity helps kids be kinder to themselves. Instead of growing up thinking they need to “fit in”, they learn how beautiful being unique really is. The characters in all the stories your child reads can become friends along their own life journey.
READ ALOUD (EVEN TO BIG KIDS!)
Reading aloud helps children develop greater literacy and fluency, especially if you’re trying to raise a reader that speaks two or more languages. Reading is not purely educational; books connect us to one another, too. The time you spend reading to your child will become some of your most cherished memories.
Another great reason read-alouds are wonderful is that they encourage a child to read even if they’re hesitant to do so on their own. Just listening along still presents a lot of benefits, and it may inspire them to participate more next time.
TAKE TURNS READING TOGETHER
A fun way to mix-up independent reading and listening is to take turns with a book. For young children who can’t yet read, give them prompts throughout the text. Rhyming books filled with repetition are great at this age, because their predictable nature makes it easy for toddlers to catch-on.
Think of it like completing a nursery rhyme:
“Old McDonald had a…”
Extra prompting is okay, too.
“Twinkle, twinkle little… hmm, what comes next? Is it sun? Or star?”
For young readers that can follow along with the text, split up stories page-by-page, or assign them characters. Kids will love getting to act out their lines in silly voices. Encourage them to be as dramatic as possible, and don’t be afraid to go for the Oscar yourself! These heartfelt experiences will help forge much stronger connections to the text.
TURN BOOKS INTO TRADITIONS
Throughout the year, find ways to incorporate books into special moments. Maybe your child loses their first tooth, so they get a special book about the Tooth Fairy under their pillow. For the holidays, pick a story that you’ll read together to celebrate the season.
On their birthday, give them a new book to represent that special time in their life. It could feature a child entering the same grade as them, or focus on themes they’re currently experiencing in life.
Books can become a beautiful way to mark different moments in your child’s life. By pairing stories with special moments, you can raise a reader who grows more excited each day about the books in their lives.