Friends I hope you enjoy this informative guest post today from my friend Rebekah Gienapp, who serves as a Barefoot Books Ambassador. She has so many great ideas!
Who doesn’t want their children to love to read? Here are my top tips for what you can do at home to raise a reader. You may be pleased to see that you’re doing many of these things already. And if you’re not? They’re easy to implement!
Be a role model. Let your child see you reading for pleasure. If we tell our kids how much fun reading is, but they never see us doing it, will they believe us? Maybe you only get time to read after the kids are in bed. If that’s the case, be sure to tell them a little about the book you’re enjoying when they’re awake. If you tend to read on an electronic device, tell your kids when you’re reading a book (otherwise they may assume you’re just checking Facebook again.) Finally, encourage the men in your children’s lives to also model reading. Since so many early childhood teachers are women and read aloud at home is often done by moms, kids can get the mistaken idea that reading is just for girls.
Do everything you can to make reading enjoyable. One of the best ways to help children associate books with feelings of warmth and love is to read to babies from birth, as the American Association of Pediatrics recommends. (If you haven’t started daily read aloud time to your child yet, there’s no time like the present!) Tell your children often how much you love reading to them. Find a cozy place to make a special reading nook. Read aloud is your child’s first theater, so make it interesting by using voices and expression. If your children are not interested in a particular book, don’t force it on them. Sometimes you may have to put up with a book you really don’t like because your child does. As Maya Angelou once said, “Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.”
Make sure your child has plenty of reading material at home and can easily access it. Research shows that having access to a variety of reading material is key to keeping kids’ minds sharp, especially over the summer months. Types of books to have on hand include rhyming books, singalongs, folk or fairytales, picture storybooks, nonfiction, wordless books, world culture books, and books that incorporate math and science concepts. Keep your children’s books on low shelves or in boxes where they can reach them without asking for help.
Read (and re-tell) the story again and again. If you’ve raised a toddler, you may have banged your head against the wall when she asked you to read the same book for the 89th time. While it can get a little boring for us, reading things over and over helps young children reinforce the concepts they are learning. Everything in the world is still new to a young child; it takes a while to absorb it all! For beginning readers, encourage them to read a book for a second or third time after they’ve completed it. This aids in their comprehension as well as increase their reading speed. For children of all ages, use fun ways to re-tell the story to you. You can use simple art activities, act it out with puppets, have them tell a story using a wordless book, or let them dictate the story to you with a new ending.
Help your young reader move up to the next level. Once your child has begun reading on his own, select a book that’s just slightly above his current reading level. Begin reading it aloud to him. During his next designated time to read on his own (bedtime or whenever you’ve chosen) offer him the choice of continuing to read the book you were reading aloud, or to pick something on his own. Often once you’ve gotten a child interested, he’ll want to continue even if it’s more challenging than what he’s used to.
To help you raise your reader, I’m offering a free Barefoot book to one lucky Stuff Parents Need reader. I’ll be tailoring it to the age of the winner’s child, so I can’t tell you the exact title. A couple of possible choices are Space Song Rocket Ride and Herb the Vegetarian Dragon. Can’t wait for the giveaway to try out Barefoot Books? Sign up for my email list and I’ll send you a 20% off code you can use on your order!
How to enter: Let’s keep it simple! Simply sign up for Rebekah’s (infrequent and informative) newsletter (be sure to click on that link!) and then comment below with the email address you used to enter (it will be the same email address used to contact you if you’ve won!). For a bonus entry, follow me on Instagram and leave a second comment with your instagram username.
Contest open to residents of the United States, 18 years and over. Contest ends at 11:59pm EST on July 23rd and a winner will be selected using random.org from eligible entries. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to winning notification before the prize is forfeited and a new winner is selected. Stuff Parents Need is not responsible for prize fulfillment.