Reading has many benefits; it increases your child's vocabulary, improves writing skills and is also known to boost memory. With so much to gain, cultivating the habit of reading is undoubtedly one of the most important gifts a parent can give a child. However, not all children take to reading quickly.
Nevertheless, parents should still try to encourage their children to read for personal enjoyment, and it is important to do so whilst they are still young. This is because when kids start attending school; reading may become associated with school homework instead of leisure and enjoyment.
Here are some things you can do to encourage your child to develop a reading habit.
Take Your Child to the Library
Make it a point to take your child to the library on a regular basis. For example, every Saturday can be Library Day for your family! Let your child sign up for a library card, as this will create a sense of ownership as well. While browsing through the library's extensive collection of books, guide your child in choosing fun and suitable books. This can help them shape their choice of books in future. If there are story telling activities or reading programmes at your local library, sign your child up for them too.
Tell Bedtime Stories
Most children do not like going to sleep immediately after bedtime is announced, but you can use this to your advantage. Lie down with them and allow your children to choose a short story of their choice. If they choose a long one, it’s even better! You will be able to read the story in parts on different nights, creating the suspense of wanting to find out what's next in the story. Stories make bedtime magical for your kids. Not only will you bond with your child, you will also be able to strengthen your child's interest in reading.
Share Your Favourite Childhood Books
Can you remember which books you used to love as a child? Or better yet, have you kept any of them? If you have, bring them out for your children to enjoy. Share your thoughts on these books, and why they were your favourites. This can be a beautiful bonding session, as you walk down memory lane with your child. If you no longer have your old books, try getting hold of them online or in stores. Many classic titles have reprints at affordable prices.
Read the Book, Watch the Movie
While reading may not be every kid's top favourite, movies are hard to say no to! Reading the book first then re-experiencing it as a movie, can help kids enjoy their books better. Discuss whether they enjoyed the book or movie more and the differences between the book and the movie. Did the movie make the book's plot clearer for them? Did the movie differ from the book? Which was better? While it may seem that these questions are simple to answer, they can actually help your child gain critical thinking skills.
Build a Book Collection
Last but not least, make a trip down to the bookstores and help your children select books to buy and keep for themselves. Having their own collection of books can make them feel positive about reading and owning their favourite paperbacks. When the books are their own, they will be able to make annotations and dog ear the book's pages as they please, creating a wonderful sense of ownership. Also, there is nothing like the smell of new books, as avid readers will attest!
It is important to instil a reading habit in your child from a young age.
Share your own childhood experiences and reading favourites; this creates the opportunity for bonding and your child is likely to identify with your love for reading.
Reading need not be done on its own, it can be accompanied by complementary activities such as storytelling and movies to make it more fun for your young child.