Reading is a wonderful pastime that can take your child to faraway places, introduce new friends, and increase vocabulary and grammar skills. If a child loves reading, there’s a good chance for success in other parts of life, too. According to the nonprofit research organization Child Trends (based on 2015 NAEP Reading Assessments data from the U.S. Department of Education and other sources), people with higher literacy skills tend to do better in school, are more likely to graduate, and have lower unemployment rates than those who read poorly.
If you’re wondering how to encourage your child’s love of reading, here are some ideas to get you started.
Read with Your Child
If you have young children or your kids struggle with reading, try reading with them at first. This is an excellent after-dinner or nighttime activity. You can curl up on the sofa or sit on your child’s bed as you read stories aloud. To increase reading skills more quickly, let your children read along with you by looking at the pages over your shoulder. Once they master this skill, take turns reading until they’re doing it all on their own. By reading together, you can bond with your child as you stimulate a love for books.
Make Reading Fun
Because reading is such an educational activity, you may be tempted to choose books that will increase your child’s learning skills, such as nonfiction books or those that are designed to increase grammar and vocabulary. It’s fine to incorporate these materials once your child enjoys reading, but it’s best to start with fun stories that are easy to read. The more your child reads, the more he or she will learn, and fictional stories are often more tempting than nonfictional. So, if your children are more interested in wizards than American history, let them read whichever they choose. Some reading is better than none at all, and their skills will likely increase anyway.
Watch Movies Together
This may seem counterproductive, but try watching movies based on books with your children. If they seem interested in the story, encourage them to read the book. Many people feel that the original stories are much better than the movie productions because movies have budget and time constraints. Books offer much more depth and detail for storytelling, and kids will love the additional details that only add to the plot and characters they know and love.
In this modern age of technology, your children have many activities vying for their attention. Many kids these days prefer social media or video games to books. If your child doesn’t love reading, even after you use the tips above, you may have to offer an incentive system. For example, if your child reads for half an hour, maybe you could offer half an hour of video games as a reward. While the incentives may be necessary to foster the reading habit, eventually your child may come to enjoy reading for its own sake.
It can often be challenging when you’re trying to instill a love of reading in your child, especially if they have no interest in it. You may even feel like giving up sometimes. But the benefits of reading far outweigh any struggle you have now. Children who read are generally more successful in school and in adulthood. Why not give your kids every chance to be successful in school and life!