How to Cultivate a Love for Reading in Young Children

children reading
One of my biggest joys as a parent has been to watch my kids’ reading skills develop.

Last year, Abby participated in the local Battle of the Books competition at her school and her team won first place in the fourth grade across several elementary schools. It was a moment  that beamed with parental pride–the quiet joy of accomplishment.

Now, as I watch my 2-year-old scurry over to my lap with a stack of board books, I wonder where the path of reading will take him….

 Board-Books

I realize there is a nature v. nurture element to reading: some of us might not be born-readers. I certainly wasn’t as a child. But, there are things you can do now for your children to nurture their love for reading, even if it’s not part of their nature.

1. Read to them early.  I think I started reading to my kids as soon as it held their attention, probably around 3 months.  Board books with bright colors and short sentences are perfect for the infant and toddler stages.

 Jonathan-Moby-Dick

2. RhymeTime.  Even as an adult, I still love poems and stories that rhyme. When my kids were young, we read Dr. Seuss almost every night. (I think I still have Green Eggs and Ham memorized.)

Not only are rhymes fun to read and hear, but research suggests that rhyming jumpstarts a child’s reading career:

“Because rhyming words – words that have sounds in common – often share spelling sequences in their written form, children sensitive to rhymes are well equipped to develop their reading.” Bookstart.org.uk

 

3. Storytime. Your local library is an amazing resource for children, even at a very young age. Most libraries have story times for babies and young children that incorporate music, story telling, and rhymes. My kids L O V E D story time at the library. I’m thankful that such a fun (and free) activity developed their love for reading at such an early age.

 

Kids at Library

4. Books as Toys. Leave a basket of board books wherever you keep your children’s toys. That way, the books will catch their eye as much as the shiny, red fire trucks.

5. Develop a nighttime ritual.  Read to your kids every night before they go to bed. It doesn’t have to be anything super long. Reading is a calming activity for children and the sound of your voice will soothe them right before they go to sleep.

6. Books on CD. Once my kids dropped their afternoon nap (the horror!), they still had an hour-long quiet time in their rooms after lunch. When they were old enough to follow along (around age 3), I left books on CD in their rooms. They loved listening for the sound of the beep to turn the page. When they followed along in the book before they could read,  I think it helped them recognize words later on.

 

7. Teach your child to read in 100 Easy Lessons.

Teach-Your-Child-to-Read

 When you think you’re kids are ready, and only if you want to, you can teach your kids to read on their own with this book. I taught my oldest to read before he started kindergarten, and I swear my daughter learned just by listening along. The lessons are hands-on and only 20 minutes per day. My kids never seemed overwhelmed; in fact, they were eager to do the next day’s lesson.

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IMG_4285Happy Reading!

Next week, I’ll post about our favorite books for different age levels.

What are the reading rituals in your family?

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