There are few “a-ha” moments in parenthood that really take the proverbial cake. Listening to your child read aloud for the first time might be one of them. But the road to reading isn’t always a smooth one. Being a parent to a beginning reader takes time, patience, and lots of cheerleading. Here are a handful of suggestions to get your little one on the path to loving the written word.
Save those baby board books
You continue to glance over to those ratty, over-used baby board books in your child’s room and think, “I really need to donate those…” Stop your urge to toss! Those books that feel “baby-ish” have large type and simple words, making an early reader feel like they’ve tackled an entire book. Your child will only think it’s too “baby” if you carry on about it. Dust them off and use them often.
Get to know your local library
While it seems like a great idea to let your kid loose in the library to select their own reading material, it’s likely both of you will end up discouraged. Kids are still kids and are attracted to pictures on the cover, which might send you home with a book that is too difficult to read. Talk to your child’s teacher or look up suggestions online for the most appropriate books for their grade level. Many libraries have their catalogs online and you can “shop” for books through your card number. Some libraries even have drive-thru windows! Too easy!
Leave books lying around
After you’re back from the library, don’t leave a tall, daunting stack of books by your child’s bedside. Place one book here or there in their play space, by their seat at the table, or even in the potty. Next thing you know, they’ve picked it up and begun paging through. Choosing their favorite characters from television or movies is particularly helpful with this technique. So many shows and movies offer up a series of “easy readers”, engaging your child with familiar faces.
Encourage them to read in unlikely places
Showing your child that reading is a part of each day helps them realize reading never stops, even when you aren’t holding a book. New words to discover are everywhere: menus, the grocery store, drive thru windows, billboards. Encourage your kids to read this material and freak out with praise when they do it on their own.
Keep a list of books they’ve finished
Keep a visible list of your child’s reading accomplishments. Just like a good behavior chart, perhaps finishing this list will prompt to some type of reward. Any way you choose to do it, keep it positive and in plain sight.
Pick the sing-a-long option
Many favorite shows or movies have an option to sing along with the characters. Memorized lyrics matching the words on screen? Otherwise known as reading!
Ah, a great trick of parenthood: playing board games and using interactive devices that secretly teach lessons to your kids. Beat-the-clock competitions and contests against Mom, Dad, brother, or sister ignite a competitive spark, forcing the brain to think fast and use skills that are already there.
What are some things that you do at home to encourage reading? Share with us at firstname.lastname@example.org!