It’s natural for children to love to read. Yet, between video games, television, and online portals like YouTube, parents need to work extra hard these days to raise voracious readers with a lifelong love of learning.
To help, here are four tips for raising a voracious reader, with tactics you can use from your child’s birth until they are in school.
Lead By Example: It’s hard to encourage reading if you, yourself, are not a reader. The importance of reading to very young children can be underestimated. Reading aloud to children during the most critical years of brain development – 0 to 5 years of age – is one of the best ways to prepare children for school and for later school success.
Reading aloud also helps create a bond between parents and their children. Children who are read to build vocabulary, which is proven to be the key for school readiness. It also fosters language development.
Consider it a service to your children to read together and read more yourself. Model the behavior you know is good for them. Reading together is where the habit of reading begins. It’s also where you demonstrate that you value reading as a pastime.
Have Dinner Together: Anne Fishel, founder of The Family Dinner Project and Professor of Clinical Psychology at Harvard University says that rare or sophisticated words don’t appear in age-appropriate books all the time or on lists of 3,000 common words on age-defined lists. But, they do come up in conversation around the dinner table. According to a piece on the Harvard School of Education blog, a 2006 paper by Professor Catherine Snow and Diane Beals found that children between the ages of three and five heard about 140 rare words when caregivers read aloud to them from picture books, which is an excellent start. At the dinner table, they heard about a thousand rare words.
Tap Into Their Interest or Passions: Does your child gravitate to a particular activity? Find an age-appropriate book that speaks to this passion. For instance, if your child is fixated on YouTube videos of surfers, find a memoir by a famous surfer (for a school-aged child) or read a book together about the ocean, for pre-school children.
Turn TV into Teaching: It’s hard to tear your child away from the television, but take a cue from what your child is watching and introduce books that enhance that experience. If your child is really into Arthur, or Cinderella, or My Little Pony, find the original books in age-appropriate versions for them to read or to read together. Help your child form a deeper bond and understand of the characters and form a more emotional attachment to reading.