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Everyone knows the benefits associated with reading:
- Kids who read (or are read to) develop their vocabulary faster than those who do not. Researchers suggest that this is because parents tend to use the same words with their children every day and books are therefore a wonderful opportunity to familiarize achild with new words. Books not only help strengthen your child’s language skills, they can also make them better communicators.
- Accustoming your child to reading from an early age can make her a reader for life.
- Reading is an easy and fun way to bond with your child.
- Books have the power to take you child to places he can only dream of. They help awaken his curiosity and sharpen his imagination and creative thinking skills.
In a study published in 2019, researchers from Ohio State University found that: “Parents who read 1 picture book with their children every day provide their children with exposure to an estimated 78,000 words each a year. Cumulatively, over the 5 years before kindergarten entry, we estimate that children from literacy-rich homes hear a cumulative 1.4 million more words during storybook reading than children who are never read to”.
While some parents are able to read to their kids on a daily basis, most are not. A recent survey found that only 30% of parents read to their children on a daily basis. Lack of time, a crazy work-life balance, or a difficulty finding the right books depending on their child’s age are all reasons that explain why fewer parents are reading to their kids on a regular basis.
The good news is that even when other obligations prevent you from reading to each of your children every night, you can still adopt strategies to make reading a regular routine in your family.
The most effective way to make reading work is to consciously make time for reading depending on what works for you. Instead of striving to read a book to each of your children every night before they go to sleep then feeling guilty when you fail, choose a reading schedule that is right for you. Reading works when it is fun for everyone concerned. It works when you can take the time to ask questions, respond to questions, explain things, add additional relevant information when necessary, etc. Instead of “rushing your reading moments” to ensure that you “read every day”, focus on the quality of the reading moments spent together.
Here are five fun tips to turn your child into a reader
1) Adopt a read-aloud tradition
Reading out loud is an easy way to familiarize younger and older kids with words. Adopting a read-aloud tradition is also a fun way to encourage your entire family to read together. In addition to making your child love reading, it also provides a perfect opportunity to bond.
An easy way to adopt a read-aloud tradition is to set aside a specific period (for example 20 to 30 minutes) on specific days for your family reading tradition. Choose a comfortable and cozy space where your kids can relax. Everyone can take turns reading and even younger kids can participate by turning the pages.
The biggest issue with a read-aloud tradition is finding books the whole family will enjoy, especially is there is a big age gap between your children.
Here are a few books children of different ages might enjoy:
If you have read books your whole family has enjoyed, please let me know in the comments section below and I will add them to the list.
Privileging interesting non-fiction books can also be an easy way to ensure that all kids enjoy your read-aloud tradition. For example, books that enable your kids to discover different countries, different cultures or specific topics (dinosaurs, volcanoes, airplanes, etc) can also be a great option for your read-aloud family tradition. You can also ask younger kids to draw or color as they listen to the story to prevent them from getting bored or losing focus.
2) Turn reading into a family routine to encourage good reading habits
Instead of reading together, you can also adopt a reading routine where everyone reads their own book separately but in each other’s company. As with the read-aloud routine, choosing specific days on which to read together can make it easier to stick to your family reading routine. Let you children choose their own books, even if those books are comics, manga, fiction, non-fiction, graphic novels, etc. Your child is more likely to stick with reading over the long term if he starts out with books he appreciates.
3) Shift your perceptions on reading
We have always been taught that it is best to read to kids right before they go to bed, that they benefit when we adopt a reading bedtime routine. But the truth is that even though reading to your child right before he goes to bed can help him relax, reading is an activity that can happen throughout the day. If you have more time in the morning, then read to your child in the morning. If you feel that your child responds better to reading right after school, then take advantage of that moment to read. Do not feel guilty if you cannot read to your children before they go to sleep – choose a schedule that works for both of you.
4) Start a reading challenge to encourage your child to read more
A reading challenge can be a great way to transform your child into a reader. Starting something like “A Book a Week” challenge the whole family can participate in can be a great way to make your child love reading. Another challenge you can try is to identify several themes in advance and ask each family member to read a book around that theme in a given month. For example, you can have:
October reading challenge:
- One book by an author you have never read
- One book set in a different country
- One comic book
November reading challenge:
- One mystery book
- One non-fiction book
- One book recommended by your librarian
December reading challenge:
- One book borrowed from a friend
- One audiobook
- One book published before 1990
If you think this is something your family would enjoy, get everyone together and select challenges in line with your family.
Starting or joining a book club with like minded families can also help your child get accustomed to reading and conversing about books.
5) Offer books as gifts if you want to raise a reader
Offering books is a great way to get your child to love reading. You can offer books on specific occasions (for example birthdays or other special celebrations such as Christmas). You can also offer subscriptions that ensure that they receive hand-picked and age-appropriate books every one, two or three months.
Here are a few subscriptions you may want to check out:
Which reading routines has your family adopted? Let us know in the comments sections below!