Do you remember what it felt like when you fell in love with reading for the first time?
Perhaps, you couldn’t stop flipping through the pages of your favorite suspense novel. Maybe you loved a book series so much that you took the latest edition to bed every night and read under your covers past your bedtime. Or perhaps, there was a heroic character who entranced and inspired you, and you just had to know what would happen at the end of the story.
The love of literature can be found at any age, and it’s never too early to discover it. As book lovers, it only makes sense to foster a love of great literature in our children and the next generation. We’ve come up with a handful of helpful tips to make reading a beloved pastime for you and your children!
1. Let your kids see you enjoy reading.
The adage “do as I say, not as I do” that we often tell children does not apply here. We can encourage our kids to read or even tell them to until we are blue in the face. However, our actions will always carry more weight.
If your child sees you set time aside to read every night before bedtime or take books to read for leisure on weekends or vacations, he or she will naturally be curious about your hobby. As parents, children will often imitate your behavior. So get them interested in reading from a young age by creating an environment where they see you reading often. Also, talk to your child about reading and why you love it.
2. Make reading a fun hobby (not just something for schoolwork.)
According to a study by Stephen D. Krashen in “The Power of Reading: Insights From the Research,” when children are able to choose what they read and have an informal environment for reading “they tend to be more motivated, read more, and show greater language and literacy development.” Also, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the more children read or are read to for fun on their own time, the higher their reading scores in school. Reading should not be a “for school only” activity. If this is the case, children will quickly associate reading with school, homework, duty, and responsibility.
Remove the pressure, and make reading a fun activity! If your kids are reading historical fiction or autobiographies at school, don’t be afraid to switch up genres at home. Engage your kids in a fun sci-fi or fantasy novel that will get them excited to read at home.
3. Read together as a family.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, “children who are read to frequently are also more likely to: count to 20, or higher than those who were not (60% vs. 44%), write their own names (54% vs. 40%), and read or pretend to read (77% vs. 57%).” It matters that your children not only see you read or that they read on their own, but that you read together as a family.
Reading together as a family allows your child to hear you say the words on the page out loud. It allows them to practice reading aloud and gain confidence in their own reading skills. It also allows them to ask questions about words, characters, or a storyline that they perhaps wouldn’t understand on their own.
4. Make literature an everyday thing/family routine.
Like any skill, reading is a muscle that you build. Make literature accessible to your kids and create an environment where reading is a regular activity in your home. Whether it is reading before bedtime or naptime, reading in the mornings, or reading on weekends, the more your children read, the quicker it will become a part of their everyday routines.
5. Introduce your kids to great authors from a young age.
When it comes to television, most kids have a favorite cartoon character. They relate to or are inspired by the character’s personality. They connect with their courage, their humor, or their creativity.
The same way that kids fall in love with a TV character, they can also fall in love with an author or book series. Maybe it’s “Harry Potter,” “Nancy Drew,” or “The Diary of a Wimpy Kid.” Help your children find a book series that they are interested in and want to keep coming back to read! Remind them of the author of their favorite series. As they grow in their reading knowledge, they won’t forget the authors who helped them find a love of literature.
Bonus: Make trips to the library/bookstore a treat (or your next online order.)
There are certain early childhood memories that kids don’t forget. If you are trying to foster a love of reading in your kids, then create a habit of taking your kids with you to choose what they will read. Whether it is a book fair, a bookstore, or a library, allow your kids to embark on the journey of searching for new books. You can also shop online and do this together virtually as well!