Reading is a habit and should be established when the child is relatively young.
In a world that is slowly but surely turning away from books and getting glued to phones, tablets, monitors or LCD television screens, the importance of developing a passion for reading cannot be overlooked. What can you do to foster this habit?
1 / About reading to your child:
Firstly, it really helps, if you are involved. If you read and read to your child it sets an example for them to follow. Read to your child and show them the words and break down to syllables in the book, pointing to them as you go along.
Encourage the child to ask questions. Ask them to explain what words mean. Show how the sounds and letters connect. By reading phonetically and showing how syllables and words, are made up of letters that equal sounds, your child will connect them together.
Stay with the same story for a while. Ask them to read along with you. Then ask them to read the story to you, you pointing to the words. There is no need to move to a new story each night. One story can last for weeks. Your child will let you know that they are bored with this story. To see what I mean, after a week or so of reading, skip ahead a few pages, you’ll find that your child, unless almost asleep. will be very quick to point out that you missed something!
2 / Enroll your child for reading classes:
There are many well structured after school reading classes that aim to draw the children to books. They help kids with diction, idioms and phrases.
For young children, these classes can be fun with animated characters and pictures. Illustrated picture books, rhymes, silly songs and pretend stories all attract the young child. Use creativity to capture the child’s vivid imagination.
3 / Pique your child’s reading interests:
If your child has a favorite character, pick a series of books that features this character. For my son, it was Spiderman. Thanks to friendly neighborhood Spidey, my son latched on to comics fairly early in his childhood.
4 / Build a home-library to encourage reading:
A skill like reading cannot be learnt in isolation. Do not leave all the hard work to the after school program. Pick up books that you think your child will like. Keep a eye out for specials at supermarkets and chain stores.
Get a bookshelf just for your children’s books. Ask them to organize them. There are multiple ways to do this; author, subject, size, publisher, color.
Great value can be had by visiting second hand stores and opportunity shops to pick up children’s books for cents in the dollar. Let you child roam and collect any that grabs their attention. And you might even be able to negotiate a good price with a bit of a haggle!
As mentioned in special interests, if your child is interested in dinosaurs, then grab any dinosaur book when they become available. Any books by Dr Suess and Little Golden Books are classics to collect.
Even an old set of encyclopedias, that has illustration can be a good pick up, especially from a second hand book store or opportunity shop. Time Life books are another group you should look closely at if they are an inexpensive pick up, they have marvelous illustrations and photographs.
Be an avid collector and teach your child to be an avid collector, you will soon find the shelves filling with books and your child’s curiosity piqued. Just remember to ask them to respect books, as there is something magical about a paper book. Plenty of time for a kindle later!
5 / Reading on the Internet:
The Internet is also a resource of reading and reading games that will attract little children to reading.
But finding good ones can take some time as many are just thrown together by people. Do make sure you spend some time looking for a good program and not just an online babysitter that keeps the child entertained, but at the end of it they learn very little — if anything at all. It should be structured.
And do make sure that you stay with them, especially while they are young. It is too easy for a child to wander off while online to places that you might not want them to go.
6 / Use an Online Program to Learn How to Read:
This is a growing area of specially designed programs to teach children how to read. Look for a structured program that will give them a head start and teach your child to effectively decode and read phonetically and one that will continue to grow with them
It should be a reading program that requires the parent (& grandparent), to be involved, and not be a quick fix solution where you put your child in front of the TV or computer for hours and hope that your child learns to “read”.
But it should never be a chore! If it can be a regular period of 10 to 15 minutes a day, then everyone is happy.
As your child progresses they will soon start to read and explore books on their own from your home library that you have lovingly created.