Happy New Year!
According to the American Library Association (ALA), the more a child enjoys reading, the better they are at learning. But for some children, reading can be a real struggle. One thing that is certain, however, is that the more a child reads, the better reader that child becomes. That’s why Silver Dolphin wants to share some suggestions for what you as a parent can do to encourage your child to read.
Familiarize your child with books at an early age. For infants and toddlers, just hearing you read aloud is a great start. As children grow, choose books with colorful pictures and simple words–or no words at all. Encourage your child to point to objects, repeat words and talk about the story. Children often want to listen to the same story over and over again, which builds confidence and familiarity with words. You can engage your child and break up the repetition of familiar stories by asking questions about what just happened or what will happen next.
Read with your child every day. For preschool through 3rd grade, experts recommend 20 minutes per day, increasing to 30 minutes per day for 4th through 6th graders, adding more time as children age. Put the emphasis on the amount of time your child spends reading rather than the number of pages or books your child has read. As your child advances in reading, you can also take turns reading aloud to each other which also builds reading confidence.
When your child is old enough, typically around 5 or 6 years of age, make a very big deal out of going to the library to get your child his/her very own library card. Maybe include the purchase of a new wallet to carry the card, too. Take a tour of the library, visit the reading circle or storytime if your library offers this, and teach your child how to use the library. Let your child select a book to check-out for reading at home and make regular visits to the library to exchange reading materials.
Pick for passion
While some parents may dream of their child reading literary classics at the age of nine, we have to be more realistic with regard to children’s reading material. The point here is that what format they read isn’t as important as the fact that they are reading. Illustrated books, pop-ups and comics will bring young kids into the reading tent, so to speak, and as long as you continue to encourage them, they’ll continue reading. As children grow, continue to give them the freedom to select books (or magazines or newspapers) that interest them.
Be a reading role model
Children mimic the behavior they see around them, so let your child see you reading for enjoyment as often as possible. You can even create a cozy reading corner in your home for individual reading time. It’s also wonderful to share stories from the daily newspaper or online news sites with your children, too. A weekly family reading circle is another way to share the joy of reading with your kids. And, as your children grow, you can take turns selecting books for the entire family to read together.
The incentive to read is different for every child says Kimber Brown, a program director for Teach for America. “For anyone to be motivated to do anything, they have to believe two things: (1) They have to believe they can do it, and (2) they have to want to do it.” The biggest motivator for children is often as simple as knowing that adults are rooting for their success. “What helps a child get through those certain roadblocks … is having someone who’s constantly on their side letting them know they can do it,” Kimber says.
Happy New Year to all!