You know it's good for your kids to read, even if you aren't exactly sure why. Here are some of the whys: reading helps vocabulary growth, stimulates the imagination, prepares kids to become better writers, and helps them experience the world without going anywhere.
Here are 9 ways to teach a child to read more by entering the book world in different ways:
1. Give kids access to books
Don't just wait until Grandma gives a few books as a present. Do everything in your power to get books in the hands of your kids. Avoid attaching any labels to them, such as "good" or "bad" - any book a child likes is a good one. Here's how to get more books in your house without going into debt:
- Go to the library once a week.
- Shop thrift store shelves, where books range from 25¢ to $1!
- Ask people who have older children if they have books they’d like to hand down to your kid.
2. Tell stories with your kids during mealtime
Storytelling is the oldest form of entertainment there is and books are simply stories, written down. Every culture tells stories and every family has some juicy ones to share. Telling stories gives kids the relaxed environment they need to reduce any anxiety they might have about reading. Let kids free-flow their stories with a beginning, middle, and end. One great idea is to start a story and then go around the table, letting each person add to the tale.
3. Combine books and art
When kids read books, they are typically drawn to illustrations. Help your child try art in the style of an illustrator whose work they’ve enjoyed. There’s even a great subscription to help feed your child’s love of art in literature. Called KidArtLit, it’s a monthly box that’s delivered to your door, with a book and art project inside. If your kids are hands-on learners, another subscription box service, The Happy Family, features one book and four different art projects and activities.
4. Don’t put your kids’ books in one place
Kids need to know that there are different books for everything we do. Make sure you have stacks of kids' cookbooks in the kitchen, art books by an easel, gardening books by the back door, and sports or comics by the television. The more your child sees that there are many different kinds of books for different kinds of reading, the more likely they'll be to pick up a book out of curiosity.
5. Sneak in reading while cooking
You have to eat meals every day, right? Well, cooking does double or triple duty when it comes to quality family time! Making meals together is a great way for kids to discover easy reading. Let your child choose a meal to make, and then ask them to read the recipe out loud. Reading activities for kids that are authentic are a sneaky - and effective- way to get your kids reading.
6. Read a book, go on a trip
Find books based in places you might be able to visit. Zoos, parks, playgrounds, and museums are all settings for stories - and are places that you can visit, making them come alive for your kids and sparking conversations about the similarities and differences between these places and the books you've read.
7. Make your kids read their shows
One fantastic idea to help kids read is to turn on your television's closed captioning. If they want to watch TV, they have to turn the sound down and read the words. You won't believe how much better their fluency gets when they have to read quickly.
8. Make use of children’s book lists
There are so many amazing new children’s books being published every year. Lists of books to help kids read are all over the internet. Bookmark sites like Brightly to give you ideas for what kinds of books your child might want to read right now, sorted by age and interest.
9. Share your own reading life with your children
One of the biggest secrets about getting your child to read is to be a reader yourself. When kids see that you love reading and choose different books for different reasons, they see what a real reader looks like and that can make all the difference.
Kimberley Moran is the mom of two children and the step-mom to two young adults. She is a senior digital editor at WeAreTeachers.com where she helps teachers improve the lives of kids everywhere. She was a teacher for 15 years, working to make sure children were both seen and heard. She wrote the book, Hacking Parenthood: Ten Mantras You Can Use Daily to Reduce the Stress of Parenting, to help all parents simplify their lives and love raising children. She lives in Maine with her family.