Reading doesn’t become a habit for little ones on its own- What can Parents do?

how little ones can be encouraged to read- Parenting resources by ZenParent

Most of us want to raise well-read, aware, smart children.  I strongly believe that the love of reading is the cornerstone to becoming an enthusiastic learner and a confident reader, writer and speaker. In fact, there’s evidence to suggest that reading for pleasure is more likely to determine how well a child does at school, as well as how much he/she gets out of his/her time spent there.

Considering that, what can you as a parent do to instill a long-lasting love for reading in your child? The short answer to this is A LOT! As a parent, you have the power to boost your children’s learning potential simply by making books an integral part of their lives starting at a very early age. It will take concerted effort in the beginning but you can be sure that it’s going to be well worth the investment of your time and energy.

Starting early – reading to your baby and toddler

By far, the most effective way to encourage your children to love books and reading is to read aloud to them, and the earlier you start, the better. Even a baby of a few months can see pictures, listen to your voice, and turn cardboard pages.

1. Build an environment of books for your newborn starting from the colorful board books. In an ideal scenario, children are born into a house where books are common sight. This way, it builds familiarity and curiosity around the concept of reading in children right from the start.

2. Reading routine– Reading need not be restricted to bedtime. Post tantrum, during lunch, after school, while you have your coffee on Sunday, any time can be reading time. Buy board books and cloth books as some of your child’s first toys. Carry them around with snacks in the diaper bag. It may appear that they are not paying attention initially but it does not matter. Continue to read to them when they are in the crib or cuddling on your lap.

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3. Lose inhibition– When reading to smaller children, parents need to lose all inhibition. Make animal sounds, change tone of voice with different emotions, mimic characters and do the actions mentioned in the book. The idea is to make reading fun and not a boring session so that they come back for more.

4. Tolerate repetition– Children love repetition. It is understandable how parents may get tired of reading the same book over and over again for bedtime.  But do indulge these requests, as this is a phase. If you want your child to move to another book, try recommending several other options to them regularly but do not force the book onto them.

Elementary schoolers – Keeping your independent reader engaged

This is the stage where your 6-8 year old CAN read independently and the challenge is to provide them just the kind of reading material that challenges them enough, while at the same time, ensuring that it does not overwhelm them.

1. Don’t stop reading to them

Parents often complain that their early readers CAN read, but just don’t seem interested enough in doing so. Most kids go through this stage, but you can help to keep it a brief one. The child’s problem, of course, is that he can read simple books, but his imagination craves more developed plots and characters. Reading those books could be agonizing work, with too many words he doesn’t know, and the labor distracts him from the story. This is where the parents have to keep reading to keep him fascinated with the secrets of books and motivated to become a proficient reader.

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2. Finding the kind of books that will keep their interest

At this vulnerable in-between stage, it is well worth the extra time to track down the books the child will find exciting. Picture books with lots of words work well, since the pictures help them stay interested enough to figure out the words. Soon, through the work they do at school and the books they pick up at home, their reading skills will catch up with the appetite for books. Within a few months, kids will be able to handle simple chapter books. At that point, look for series books, which often lure kids on to the next book and so on.

These tips will help to a certain extent in influencing your child’s reading habits. Parents can also speak to fellow parents to find out what has worked for them and learn from their experiences. However, it is imperative for parents to keep in mind that each child is different and the amount they can read and the kind of books they can read will vary.

There are invaluable online resources which can help you find the right books for your child based on their reading and interest areas.

Click here to learn how to encourage kids to enhance their vocab!

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