Tips For Raising Kids Who Love to Read
Perhaps Dr. Seuss said it best with, “You are never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child.”
Reading is a vital link to education, empathy, imagination and the development of problem-solving skills. When you nurture the love of reading in your children, they reap the benefits for their entire lifetime! Check out our best tips for encouraging little bookworms.
The benefits of reading
Before we discuss how to raise a child who loves reading, let’s cover why it’s so worthwhile. There’s no shortage of research confirming the benefits, so here’s just a short round-up:
- Communication skills. As your child reads, their brain creates powerful neural connections that enable more efficient and effective communication.
- Language development. Kids learn spelling, grammar and new vocabulary, which also has the dual benefit of strengthening their writing skills.
- Greater empathy. Stories give children the rare opportunity to visit places they may never visit, “walk in another’s shoes,” and understand different cultures and perspectives.
- Increased academic performance. Children who read often have a broader knowledge base, concentration skills, critical thinking and analytical skills, stronger memory retention skills and an expanded vocabulary, all of which boosts their overall academic performance.
- Focus and concentration. The ability to stick with a story from start to finish lengthens your child’s attention span. In these days of excessive screen time, the ability to focus is more important than ever!
Best of all, reading is a wonderful bonding experience for you and your child. After all, snuggling up with books brings you closer together and encourages conversations about life and what it means to be a human. Just 10 to 15 minutes of daily story time can become a positive ritual that has a profound impact on their development and your relationship.
Ideas to encourage little readers
The key to nurturing a love for reading is to create positive reading experiences. While some kids are born bibliophiles, The Atlantic reports that a chief factor in becoming a leisure reader is “the culture of reading that parents create within the household.” Thankfully, there’s plenty of easy ways to create those positive associations!
1) Read with your child.
Your child is never too young for story time. Babies and toddlers can see the pictures, listen to your voice and help turn the pages. In the first five years of your child’s life, their brains are sponges and forming strong connections that last for life. Make it fun by using different voices for the characters, or making dramatic sounds for trains, airplanes, etc.
Read to them and with them early and often!
2) Surround kids with books.
Make it easy for your child to read! Have plenty of age-appropriate reading material available; stack books on the coffee table and in the bathroom. Take regular trips to the library and the bookstore to let kids choose books that they’re interested in. To make it a joyful experience, it’s important to support their choices, instead of pressuring them to read something you think they should be reading. Comics still count!
It’s also a great idea to have word games, crossword puzzles or trivia challenges around the house to add a fun factor. Bring audio books along for long car rides. Keep word games or books in your purse or bag, too — “waiting times” at the store are the perfect time to bring them out.
3) Incentivize them.
Incentivizing your kids to read does not mean bribing them! Rather, it’s about making it a positive experience that encourages an intrinsic love for reading. An article from Kqued.org shares one idea we love:
“If your child has a set bedtime, consider letting them stay up 30 minutes longer if they’re reading in bed. This type of strategy makes reading special, a treat that comes with privileges. That’s very different from rewarding a child for reading with candy or screen time — extrinsic rewards that send the message that reading must not be very fun.”
4) Talk to them about what they’re reading.
Some parents might fear that kids will come across topics they’re not quite ready for. However, books are the perfect launching point for tough conversations. They can also provide invaluable context, rather than bringing certain topics up at random. Talk to your child about what they’re reading and how it makes them feel; how a character handled a situation; and how they would handle a similar one. These conversations bolster their reading comprehension and build trust between you.
5) Be a reading role model.
Kids who see parents “walking the walk” are far more likely to become book-lovers themselves. When your children witness you reading for pleasure, it sends a powerful message!
For more family-friendly tips, check out the CA Parents’ Corner blog.