The winter school holidays have come in sooner than expected and of course, the Level 4 lockdown restriction has added more limitations to what parents/guardians can do to keep the little ones entertained.
But let’s not sweat this one too much and try something a little different which can leave a longer lasting impact on the child’s life, yes reading.
To promote a culture of reading, especially among children, the National Reading Coalition has come up with some handy tips you can use to get your child into reading.
1. Swap fort-night for an audiobook
Yes, audiobooks count as reading—and they can help children do it better and with exercised imagination. Hearing someone reading a book confidently is a great way to experience fluency, which is the ability to read a text accurately, quickly, and with good expression.
2. Model the love of reading
Children take cues from adults. When you grow up surrounded by junk food, you like junk food. When you grow up surrounded by books, you like books.
3. Theme your nook with books
A quiet, cosy, full-of-books nook is a must. Kids love forts, so just draping two chairs with a blanket can do the trick. But working with your child to make it an area where he/she/they’d want to hang out makes reading time even more appealing. Consider a beach theme: towels on the floor, a beach umbrella propped against the wall, a poster of the ocean, and sand buckets to house the books with some seashells too. Other fun possibilities includes: a pirate’s cove, rain forest, or spaceship.
4. Celebrate writers
Start with Dr. Seuss—March 2 is his birthday. (He’d be 113!). Participate in reading competitions, games, and parties. Celebrate at home by introducing your kids to one of the good doctor’s lesser-known works.
- And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street (his first book)
- The King’s Stilts
- I Wish That I Had Duck Feet
Pick a classic that has been turned into a movie—Bridge to Terabithia; The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory—and read it together, a few chapters at a time. When you have finished, host a family movie night to watch the film version. It’s a great way to motivate reluctant readers and then discuss what was loved or different between the book and the movie. This process should help children see the value of reading.
5. Stash books all over
Surrounding kids with books at an early age gets them hooked. Curate a basket to reflect the current season—they’ll be excited to see new titles and tying them to what’s going on that month will bolster their interest. No holiday on the horizon? Hit the library for topics your kid is currently in to. Leave them out (even on the floor of the car!) and they will pick them up. Don’t keep books up on shelves. Let little kids touch them, carry them around, even take waterproof ones into the bath. Books are no night only habit. Start forming the habit in everyday living scenarios.
6. Read aloud—even when they don’t need it
Reading aloud is both educational and social, so there are layers of value there. Plus, children learn to read best—and to love it most—when they hear countless stories over many years in a meaningful context (think cuddling on a parent’s lap). Listening also gives tired readers a break.
7. Turn your library visits into adventures
Lean on librarians—they’re paid to make reading magical for kids. Check in at the front desk before hitting the stacks to see what kind of activities might be going on. Bookmark the website, too, so you can see upcoming events. And be sure to get each of your children a library card. It will help them take ownership of the reading experience.
8. Re-read the same books to little ones
Books advance early language development and cognitive skills. At first, kids notice the pictures; then they learn to turn the pages; then they realize the story is the same each time—all key pre-reading skills. Books with rhymes are especially beneficial: Rhyming helps with phonemic awareness—recognising repetition and sounds. Kids love rhymes because they learn what comes next and can chime in.
9. Get cooking
When ingredients and instructions are read slowly many times, it improves comprehension. Get a cookbook at the library and let your child pick a meal to make with you. Ask the child to read the recipe out loud while you chop. Then switch roles. Have him or her write out a menu too — incorporating writing in play also bolsters reading skills.
10. Ask questions
This enhances comprehension—and enjoyment. (It’s no fun if they don’t get what’s going on.) It’s not about grilling, it’s about checking in. Ask which characters he likes best, what he thinks will happen next, what he would do in that situation. If you over-focus on letters and sounds at the expense of the story, children aren’t as likely to become good readers. If you’re a good reader, you read fast—you’re not looking at every letter, you’re reading for meaning, which is what fuels the reading process.