As a clinical psychologist and children’s author, I often get asked for a lot of advice. One of the questions parents frequently ask me is how can they raise a great reader. Reading is a habit that is one of the most valuable any child can learn. I believe, that if you can read you can learn anything. Once a love of reading is discovered a whole new world opens up and it keeps opening up for the rest of a child’s life. In the modern age of apps and on-demand movies how does one help your child become a great reader and give them one of the most valuable gifts they will ever receive? Here are six ways to encourage your child to read and enjoy reading:
Reading aloud to a child, even when the child is in the womb and when they are old enough to read for themselves, is a powerful and enjoyable experience as well as a great way to help your child become a great reader. For an in-depth look at the benefits of reading together as a family and practical how-to tips, I highly recommend The Read-Aloud Family by Sarah Mackenzie.
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However, my quick and dirty tip for all parents is to set aside as little as 10 minutes a day and find a cozy place. Pick a book you think your child will love (don’t be afriad to read a book above your child’s reading level) and then just take turns reading to each other. I believe in the benefits of families reading aloud together, I created a read aloud-family journal that families can record their memories in. You can find it HERE and save 20% with the discount code “huddlestons”.
Encourage Reading In All Forms
Anything can be read and keeping a selection of appropriate and enticing comic books, books (fiction and non-fiction), magazines and junior Bibles in reach makes a child want to read. One of my favorite gifts to give to kids (and sometimes adults) whole don’t like reading the Bible is The Action Bible. I have personally seen how reading this “comic book Bible” has sparked enough interest to read a “regular” Bible.
For kids, who love electronics, consider ebooks. At first they may just look at the pictures but that is okay. If you see your child reading ask them in a gentle way “what are you reading?” and show interest while also encouraging your child.
Use a dictionary
While helping your child become a great reader there will be many words they do not know the meaning of, in some cases you many not either. Keep a dictionary handy and look up the meanings of words together at first and then teach your child how to use a dictionary from a young age. Kids are naturally curious and will always ask what a word means. Never say “I don’t know” and leave It but rather “I don’t know, shall we look it up in the dictionary?”. Finding out the meaning of new words is exciting for a child and makes reading even more enjoyable.
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Discuss what is being read
Never be afraid to talk about what your child has read or is reading. Go beyond “did you like the book” and where possible get the child to tell you about the book, the story or what made them start reading it. Talk about how the book compares to others he or she may have read and suggest others to them.
Don’t force the pace
Reading is meant to be enjoyable and many parents make the mistake of forcing a child to read “X” books in “Y” time. Every child reads and learns at their own pace, by all means encourage reading but don’t make reading a chore or punishment. Also, some books may take longer to process and fully understand. By not forcing the pace, you are letting your child know it is okay to take their time and really enjoy the book.
Set the example
A reading home raises reading children. Parents who read automatically encourage children to read because kids copy them. Making time to read as a parent, in a space without distraction and where your children can see you read sets a tremendous example. By making time to read every day will soon see your child sat with you, quietly doing just what you do.
Reading is a habit that becomes a joy that stimulates imagination and fuels curiosity. It is a tool that will be one of the most valuable tools a child can possess in later life and when a child has a love of reading generations down the line will follow suit.
Corine Williams, Ph.D. is Clinical Psychologist. However, my passion is to write books that educate, uplift, and help provide parents with a tool to talk about difficult subjects. To date she has published several picture books including: Jaden Goes to Foster Care, Why We Give Gifts at Christmas Time; What is Love; My Journey with Jesus Christ, Teaching Christ’s Children About Anger and Teaching Christ’s Children About Godly. You can find out more about her at www.booksbycorine.com.
Disclaimer: With the Huddlestons does not endorse the celebration of mainstream holidays (Christmas, Easter, Halloween, etc.). To read more about what we believe and celebrate, click HERE.