Inspiring a love of reading in your child
Date Posted:7 May 2020
There has been a substantial decline in the number of children who enjoy reading through the years. Many children see reading as a chore, instead of something that can be done for recreation. By encouraging good reading habits from young, it can inspire a love for reading in your child.
Reading has many benefits to your child's development:
- Reading can help your child get to know sounds, words and language, and develop early literary skills1
Children can learn new words as they read or are being read to. They absorb information on sentence structures and how to use different language features in writing and speaking2.
- Reading can fuel your child's imagination and stimulate their curiosity1
As we read, we translate the descriptions written in the text in our heads. The more engaged we are in the story, the more we feel what the characters are feeling. Your child will most likely bring that into their everyday play2.
- Reading will help your child's brain, social skills, and communication skills develop
Reading strengthens brain connections and builds new connections. It is a complex activity that works our brain more than watching TV. It also helps your child develop empathy as they begin to imagine how they would feel in that character's shoes.
- Reading can help your child achieve better results in school
Children who read tend to have good concentration skills as they have to sit still and quietly so they can properly focus on what they are reading. This skill will further improve as they continue to read. Many children who read tend to do better across the curriculum.
- Reading is a great way to spend time together
The time you spend reading with your child promotes bonding and helps to build your relationship.
Here are 5 tips you could use to help your child fall in love with reading:
1. Read to your child3
Establish a reading routine early on in your child's life and continue even after they are capable of reading independently. Reading to your child before they learn how to speak can facilitate their language development — the more words they are exposed to as an infant, the larger their vocabulary will be by age 3.
The time you spend reading to your child will help them form a positive opinion about reading4. They will associate the activity with relaxation and stress-relief and will also build a stronger bond between parent and child. Children learn to read best under such circumstances.
2. Model good reading habits
Young children take their cues from adults. You might find that your child would mimic your actions or the way you speak. You might also find yourself trying to get your child to repeat after you when they're learning how to speak. The same principle applies to helping your child fall in love with reading.
Try as much as possible to read in front of your child. Talk to them about the book you are reading. You can point out something that reminds you of the story and talk about it excitedly. When they see your excitement and see you reading often, it shows that reading is both an important and fun activity5. If your child is at the age where they can read independently, encourage them to join you with their own book as you read.
3. Start a family book club
With older school-age children, schedule time where the whole family reads together. If they have older siblings, encourage them to sit down and read to their younger siblings. This can strengthen their bond and build trust as they sit and interact in a stress-free environment.
Encourage discussions about the books they've read. Everyone takes turns sharing something about the book they're reading. It doesn't have to be a deep discussion about the story! It can be something as simple as what they liked best about the book, or how they felt reading certain chapters or passage in the story. This will also build critical thinking skills while enhancing their verbal and reading skills3.
4. Listen to audiobooks
Instead of having the radio on, maybe consider having audiobooks playing while your child is in the car. Hearing someone read aloud confidently is a good way to expose your child to fluency and improves their critical listening skills. It is a good way to introduce books that are above your child's reading level and new genres that they might not have been exposed to6.
5. Give them something to read!
The best way to help your child fall in love with reading is to give them something they actually want to read. You can start small by giving them short magazine articles, blog posts, graphic novels or a short story. The medium does not matter as long as they are reading.
Take advantage of your local library and let your child choose the books they want to read. Getting your child to enjoy reading starts with choice — let them choose what they want, and eventually they will find genres that really interest them.
Here are some books you can introduce to your child:
1. Book adaptations
Many children’s television series have book adaptations that can help your child get into reading. Peppa Pig has a series of picture books and activity books that can engage your pre-schooler and get them started on reading. Disney also has book collections based off of their movies. If your child loves Frozen, the Disney Before the Story series that follows Elsa and Anna's story could be of interest to them!
For school-age kids and teenagers, reading books that were adapted into films or television shows can get them interested in reading too. Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series is a great series to introduce school-age children to reading, particularly if they are interested in Greek mythology. Other books include Roald Dahl's Matilda and E.B. White's Charlotte's Web.
2. Feeding your child's curiosity
Pre-schoolers have a lot of questions about how the world works. You can help them learn the alphabet while connecting them to the world to help them better understand the little things they experience daily. Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a classic series that engages your child with the bright colours and artwork. Renée Treml's collection of picture books inspired by Australian wildlife will get your child excited about local wildlife while learning. Anna Walker's Lottie and Walter explores fears and how to overcome them with a compelling story that will engage your child along with colourful illustrations. Jane Godwin and Anna Walker's Starting School can help soothe any first-day-of-school anxiety your child might be feeling.
3. Books that cater to your child's interests and hobbies
Any child interested in forensic science should read National Geographic Kids' Solve This! Forensics as it includes G-rated activities for them to solve mystery cases. Amy Ludwig Vanderwater's Write! Write! Write! is a series of poems about writing that will encourage any young budding writers to pick up a pen and start writing their own stories! Katherine Holabird's Angelina Ballerina series will inspire young dancers to keep dancing.
4. Non-fiction books
Non-fiction books can inspire your child while teaching them life lessons. Malala Yousafzai's Malala's Magic Pencil tells the story of how a young girl can change the world for the better. Chelsea Clinton's She Persisted tells the stories of 13 American women — Harriet Tubman, Helen Keller, etc. — who changed the world, proving that children can do anything if they set their minds to it. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank is a good read for school-age children that helps them think more critically about injustice and hate and to learn compassion for others.
5. Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy, and Sci-Fi
Young adult novels for teenagers are usually books that get teens into reading again. The Harry Potter series is a good starting point for children of any age who want to escape into a world of magic.
Dystopian novels for teens often engage teenagers and young adults to start reading again. The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins is a powerful series that touches on government corruption and the effects of that on the people. The Maze Runner series by James Dashner has a different take of teen dystopian novels. Use these suggestions as inspiration to continue developing a love of reading in children and young adults!
Make reading fun!
The most important part about helping your child fall in love with reading is to make it fun. Don't force them into reading as they will think of the activity as a chore. Let them lead in the process. Help them explore different genres and figure out what type of stories they enjoy reading and build their collection from there!
1. Raising Children Network. Reading and Storytelling with babies and children. (Link)
2. Cam Everlands Primary School. 10 benefits of reading. (Link)
3. Chen, G. 5 ways parents can inspire children to love reading. (Link)
4. Reach Out & Read. Child Development. (Link)
5. Ruddy, E.Z. 18 Genius Ways to Make Kids Love Reading. (Link)
6. Johnson, D. Benefits of Audiobooks for All Readers. (Link)