All humans share a love of STORIES. In all cultures, whether oral or written, these stories transmit values, insights, and information to their audience. It is no secret that reading, and being literate, is integral to a child’s success. Here are a few ways to get your child hooked on reading:
Availability – Board books are probably the best baby toy EVER! They make stories available as a chew toy. So, babies, Chew on those beauties, but don’t you dare hurt the paper versions!
Sing-Aloud Books – At least for my son, songs really captured his baby ear. His favorite board book was a version of Hush Little Baby by Sylvia Long. I think he loved the singing and the pointing out of the objects sung about. Books with rhymes and beautiful illustrations.
Bedtime Storytime (and/or Naptime Storytime) – I’m sure I can’t have the only kid who is “NEVER tired.” But, I definitely know how to use this to my advantage. A few times, my son went through a phase where he didn’t want to sit and read. Being the wily mamma I am, I simply offered him the choice between going to bed immediately, or having storytime first! Worked every time.
Real Enjoyment – Find books you both enjoy! I am simply not a patient enough person to read endless stacks of Pokemon and Berenstain Bears. If there is a book Tenzin desperately wants to read, but that makes me feel a little crazy, he knows there has to be give and take. I pick the next book, which is usually something I think is edifying, but that Tenzin hasn’t shown interest in. Best of all, if there are a few books that you both adore, read them over and over! (For some reason, this I can handle…)
Books on Tape – We, unfortunately and for various reasons, spend a fair amount of time in the car. Beginning last summer, when Tenzin was 4, I started putting books on tape instead of the radio. (My guilty pleasure pop stations were starting to feel a little too inappropriate…) We listened to Redwall, and The Spiderwick Chronicles to start off with. Since then we have listened to A LOT of books on tape, including a couple he asked to listen to twice: My Side of the Mountain and Island of the Blue Dolphins.
Buddies – Being around an older child who is learning to read can jump start the learning process for your child. Or, seeing a friend or family member who is a reader can whet a child’s interest. This could also be classified as “Role Models.”
Library Reading Programs – Younger kids love earning stickers and adding a little competition to the mix can be productive.
Utility – Curious little people love to ask questions about The Way Things Are, questions I often can’t answer properly off the top of my head. When this happens, I make a big deal about how we can use such and such book to figure out the answer, or offer to help find the answer by reading online.
Jump for Chocolate – Every heard of bribery? It works. My sister came up with this creative game for learning sight words: Buy or make a set of flashcards of common, basic words. Lay out a few at a time in a line across the floor, with space enough for a pair of little feet between. The child shouts out the words as he jumps over the flashcard all the way to the end of the line. If she gets them all, she earns a bit of chocolate! Or whatever treat is enticing
Habits – Expecting your child to read every day for a certain amount of time can be difficult to enforce in the beginning, but is almost sure to establish a habit that will last. After the initial pain of reading as a chore, your child is sure to come across a book that captures his or her attention. Another option is to require a certain number of books be read during a particular time period.
Newfangled Technology 😉 – Reading on a Kindle, iPad, or whatnot can make reading feel like a treat to the reluctant teen or preteen.
Peer Pressure! – Young people are wired for social learning. Finding the right group of peers for your teen or preteen can provide the impetus for reading regularly.
Anything I missed? I’d love to hear your methods!