Schools and parents spend a lot of time teaching children to read, then spend even more time wishing said children would read better or read more. Why is it that so many children must be convinced to read? Are the methods typically used to teach children to read really working? Do they teach that reading is fun or are they giving the idea that it is no more than yet another school chore to get through? A crucial key, maybe even the most fundamental of keys, in raising a reader is showing that reading is fun, making reading something that a child wants to do.
I write these tips and suggestions to you, having successfully raised my own two children to be excellent readers who enjoy reading and spend a lot of time at it. I’ve been in the child care business for several years now and have received many comments about how the children I have cared for love to look at books and be read to, several have gone on to school and excelled in the academics as well as showing their enjoyment of reading. Our environment is supremely reading-rich.
The most important step in going about showing children that reading is fun, is to read aloud to them. Spending time with parents is what young children want to do more than anything–they never tire of Mom or Dad’s attention. Reading with your child is a double bonus, time spent giving focused, undivided attention while also reading with them. To bring up a good reader, take some time to read fun, exciting books with your child. During your shared reading time, use animated voices and tickle moments to make this time even more special. Need help in finding books to read aloud with your child? Your local library is just the perfect place for that. Ask the children’s librarian for suggestions, browse the library and see which books catch your eye and the eye of your child, talk to other parents, talk to teachers, or browse reading lists online for book ideas.
Another, equally important aspect of impressing upon children the joys of a reading-rich life, is to do so by example. All children copy what they see the grown-ups doing–if not right at that moment, at some future moment. If children see you reading for your own pleasure, for your own learning, they grow up believing that reading is a good thing. They see that reading is something a person wants to do, it’s positive. Read the newspaper, magazines, books, letters from friends, emails, interesting websites/articles online, the list goes on. Share things you’re reading with the children, with each other. By modeling the benefits of reading simply by example, children see that reading is a part of everyday life with many positives and rewards. No coercion is needed in the natural flow of things, when reading is part of life as much as meals, night-times, television shows, hugs n baths and so on.
Lastly, to promote a natural love of reading in your children, be sure to have a reading-rich home. Bright, inviting child-friendly books and magazines strewn about the house, in every room, invite a child to browse them and maybe bring one to you to talk about or read aloud. The bathroom is a great place to leave a book or two–what else is there to do in there? A reading-rich environment is a wonderful gift to give your children.
Instead of wondering by which method to teach a child to read or what glossy gimmick to come up with next in getting children to read more (and therefore read better), much more success will come from showing a reading-rich life, from leading by example. Making reading fun is as easy as taking your child to the park, playing tag and all those other things we do to enrich our children’s lives. Reading is a part of every-day life, all day long.