Reading provides an essential foundation for children to grow into successful adults. As they read, kids learn new words and grow their vocabulary. This, in turn, helps them develop communication skills and build social and emotional intelligence — essentially, they thrive.
As children read, they also dive into limitless worlds and new adventures, which foster imagination and creativity. Readers tend to do better in school and their relationships with their peers, perhaps due to the character development they experience as a result of reading.
So how can you help your child develop strong reading habits and a lifelong love of books? Try these tips.
1. Establish Reading Routines Early
The best way to form a reading habit is to implement a consistent daily routine. For example, you may want to designate a half-hour to an hour for your child to read independently at the same time each day. Set up a screen-free zone in a quiet area of your home or a reading nook with lots of natural light in your child’s bedroom.
For younger children, you should make it a point to read to your baby or toddler nightly. You can create a special event out of it by trying these strategies:
- Cozy up under a soft blanket or have a special reading chair that you use for story time.
- Let your tot turn the pages as you read and point out details in the book’s illustrations.
- Use your finger to follow along with the words as you read them.
These methods, when paired with other nighttime rituals such as putting on pajamas and brushing teeth, will make reading an expected — and loved — part of the day.
2. Foster a Love for Books
A great way to encourage your child to love books is to show your own enthusiasm for stories. Take your son or daughter to the local library and take note of books in stores. Let him or her select books to check out or purchase. Notice covers and titles and express how excited you are to find out what’s inside. Display books or bookcases around your home. Treat them as the treasure troves they are.
When your older child or adolescent has his or her own independent reading time, take the opportunity to get lost in a book of your own. Carving out time in your day to read shows children just how precious the written word is.
3. Find a Supportive Environment
You love books and show your child that love. You read to him or her each and every day. But you’re only one person, and your son or daughter likely spends much of their day outside of the home.
When you’re selecting a school or childcare centre, make sure it’s a place where reading is encouraged. Children thrive in an environment where there are designated reading areas or times and books are readily available. Teachers and caregivers who read to kids not only reinforce what you’re doing at home, but they also help with cognition and spark interest in new genres and subjects.
Pave the Road to Success
Reading is a crucial skill not only because your child will spend their entire lives surrounded by words but also because it’s important for cognitive development, communication and overall functioning.
Establishing the habit early and then building upon it throughout childhood and adolescence will benefit your son or daughter and help him or her to thrive in school and beyond. By creating the routine early, modelling your own love for books and placing your child in a setting where reading is celebrated, you’ll maximise their future success.