With the start of the school year, there is no better time than now to create a reading routine with your school-aged child, a toddler or even infant. As a parent, there is much you can do to develop your child’s reading skills and set the stage for a lifelong love of books and learning. Show your child that reading is a year-round activity by making reading fun and interesting, and chances are he or she will be eager to read on his or her own.
The best predictor of reading success is the amount of time children spend reading. Reading at home can help children of all ability levels keep their skills sharp. Just a few minutes each day sharing a story or part of a book with your child can increase interest in reading.
The best way to encourage your budding reader is by reading to him or her on a regular basis. The following tips will help ensure that the time you spend reading to your child is well spent:
Be Relaxed and Have Fun
Make reading a relaxed and fun activity. Try to minimize distractions. Turn off the television and consider asking other family members to take phone messages for you. Establish a routine time and place for reading.
Invite your child to sit close to you as you read so he or she can see the illustrations and turn the pages.
Go to the Library
Ask your child to select the book or books to be read. Frequent trips to your public library will give your child an opportunity to select new and different books.
Be prepared to read and reread the same books over and over. Children love repetition; when a book is well known or the story is familiar, children delight in their ability to “read” the book to or with others.
Read with Expression
Read the books with expression. For example, alter your voice for different characters or become more animated during exciting parts of the story.
As you read, pause periodically to ask questions about the text to help your child develop comprehension skills. For example, “What happened to the snowball that the boy put in his pocket?” When reading a book for the first time, build upon your child’s imagination by reading the book’s title and asking your child what the story might be about prior to reading it.
Talk About Pictures
Illustrations give additional layers of meanings to books. Ask your child to share his or her thoughts about the illustrations as you read books together, for example, “The book says the dog is very, very happy. Does he look happy to you? How can you tell?” For infants and toddlers, board books with vivid colors and illustrations can be a nice introduction to a lifelong love of reading.
Reading is Important
By striving to become a “reading model” for your child, you can demonstrate through your own actions that reading is important to you. Allow your child to see you regularly reading the mail or the newspaper, magazines or professional journals, or your favorite novels, and you’ll begin to plant the seeds that encourage a lifelong love of reading. For more reading tips and recommended books for your children, please visit your local library.
About the Author
Megan Riede is the Senior Director, Education Programs with Knowledge Universe, the parent company of KinderCare. Megan oversees the curriculum development for all of the education curriculum programs (core and enrichment programs) taught within KinderCare. Additionally, she supports the training of the bilingual teachers dedicated to Knowledge Universe’s Bilingual Mandarin Immersion Program and partners with Knowledge Universe’s Singapore business to develop the Mandarin Curriculum as needed for KinderCare. Before coming to Knowledge Universe, she spent 4 years as a Producer at Leapfrog in Emeryville, CA. developing interactive toys for children ages 3 to 6. Megan holds a BA in Elementary Education from the University of Arizona.