For many parents, carers and guardians, encouraging their children to read is a key intention throughout the early years. But as some of you may know, it is not always as easy as we might think.
Reading should be fun for kids, not simply part of a curriculum. Until children find reading fun and exciting, it is unlikely they’ll adopt it as a hobby. But fear not, for there are some simple techniques that can create the right home environment to inspire reading which are both straightforward and effective. Here, we’ll cover a few easy-to-implement ideas on how to get your kids into reading from a young age.
It should come as no surprise that children observe and mirror the behaviours they see in adults in their early years. An important way to encourage reading is therefore to adopt a positive reading routine yourself, or simply create a space in your home designed for reading – this can just be a bookshelf. When children grow up surrounded by books and others who have a passion for reading, it is likely they will emulate the same passion.
You could even arrange a time once a week for you to read with/to children as this will create a bonding experience for everyone and allow the kids to feel comfortable around books.
Another method is to swap music for audiobooks when you can. It is important to remember that there are still many benefits of music for young children so do not cut out music entirely. But hearing someone read a book is a great way for children to be exposed to fluency and expression. So perhaps while you’re in the car or cooking dinner together, it could be a good idea to play an audiobook for your little ones.
A fun way to engage children with books is to link them to what is going on in their own lives – it is how we all connect to novels and stories. Choosing a book related to the season, upcoming holiday or event could be a super interactive way for kids to fully immerse themselves in the narrative. For example, you could read a spooky (yet age-appropriate) story around Halloween, or perhaps Dr Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas in December. Get creative with your reading choices and don’t be afraid to mix things up if your child doesn’t seem to be engaging with it.
If you have more than one child, creating a reading competition could be a good incentive to increase their interest. Make a reading goal for the year and whoever reaches it first, wins a prize.
You could even get your child’s friend or other relation involved as well that’s even better. Though it’s important to be mindful of rivalries and the different reading speeds of your children, so feel free to create a competition however you see fit. Perhaps a bookish quiz is more your children’s style. Whatever the best incentive is, get creative with your reading challenges.
Finally, help to bring your children’s imaginations to life after having read a book. This is something that can help children for the future, no matter the career they choose, be it a career in PR, advertising or even law or anything else creative (source: Eskenzi PR).
You could watch a TV or film adaptation of their most recent read, allowing them to compare the narrative in the book to the director’s portrayal of it. If there isn’t an adaptation, why not organise a trip to where their favourite novel is set.
Granted, some places will be out of reach but where possible it could be an amazing experience for your kids to see their imagination become a reality. It doesn’t need to be particularly costly either. If you’ve read The Three Little Pigs with your little one, why not take them to a farm to see some piggies in real life. Bringing books to life will only deepen a child’s connection to them and ultimately encourage a love of reading to take with them into adulthood.