Reading is such an important skill and interest to cultivate in children. Some parents have reluctant readers and wonder how to raise a child who loves reading. Getting your child to love reading is not as daunting or impossible as it seems.
I recommend that you start this process early and no matter where you are now, it is never too late to start. Seeing our children hold a book and curl up to read, is one of the things that makes me super happy!
Read to them
The power of reading to children should not be underestimated. Start reading to them from when they are babies, get them books that they can hold and touch. Let them hear you read out to them. As they get older let them pick the books they like and make your reading time a routine. When the kids were younger bedtime included a bath and reading a book together, as they got older we started taking turns with reading to each other.
Now that they are older the love for bedtime reading has continued and they read by themselves before bed. The habit has been formed. If your children are already older, you can start by sitting and reading together. Let your children turn off their devices and grab a book. Ideally, screen time should end an hour before bedtime.
Introduce them to various types of books
A nursery school teacher recommended this to me when my daughter was young. She encouraged me to buy various types of book on different topics. The more variety they are exposed to, the better. Now that my children are older, they read all sorts of books including fiction, biographies, Guinness World Records and so much more. My son was initially a reluctant reader and one of the things that worked was to buy him books on topics that interested him. So we bought lots of different books about cars and planes. When the children are younger it is important to cultivate the habit of reading.
Let them see you reading
Children learn more from what you do rather than what you say. It is important that they see you reading. The more they see you reading the more encouraged they will be to read. Setup a routine and read together regularly. I highly recommend holding a physical book now and then and not only read digital or online books.
Don’t give up on them
Do not give up on them. Encourage them and explore together; it would surprise you that when your child finds the types or genres of books he enjoys; reading will become a joy. Take them to the bookstore and buy them different books.
Parents we know that you want them to read; however nagging will not work. Speak to their teachers and librarians. My kids’ school encourages reading and going to the library to borrow, read and return books is part of the weekly activities. In addition, the school encourages book swaps so children can regularly get new books by swapping their old books. Praise your child when they finish a book, especially the reluctant readers. Have conversations with them about what they learned.
Some children enjoy audiobooks; so you can try this out. Children have different learning styles, auditory learners prefer to listen. The other learning styles are Visual, Kinesthetic and reading/writing.
Lastly getting age-appropriate books are important to ensure your child is reading at the right level. Visit our Amazon page for some recommended books for children of different ages, 0 and 5, 6 to 10, tweens and young adults.
ScreenTime Versus Reading
According to the WHO; Children under the age of one should have no screen time, while children younger than 5 should have no more than an hour of screen time per day. Children who have excessive screen time access when they are younger have poorer emerging literacy skills and less expressive language. It is advisable to take away screens and tp read to your child int he early years tp boost brain development. [Tweet “Research and Science has proven that brain development is fastest in the first five years of life.”]
To reduce the struggle between screentime and reading it is important that parents and caregiver do not make reading a punishment. Both screentime usage and reading can be encouraged in the right way. Just as children cannot eat junk food all day, screen time needs to be about quality.
Screen time should be made a reward, and books should be made fun. This relationship will naturally encourage children to pick up reading. For Gen Z we need to explain to them that reading is the way we download software into our brains. Being digital natives, they will understand this analogy.
You are an Example
When your baby is just learning to make sounds, you should talk to your baby and respond to their baby talk with actual words and sentences. Your baby is not speaking nonsense, he or she is actually learning to speak and make sounds. To encourage language development sing to your baby, point to things in their surroundings and name them. Read interesting books to them and point things out to them, show them colours and point out the objects in the book.
Phonics important in the early years of learning to read; help your child to match sounds to objects.
As your children get older, it is important that they see you reading as well. If they only see you on your device; it is hard for them to understand why you want them to read. Excessive screentime gets in the way of more than just reading; it also affects playing time outside, imagination and creativity.