“My child hates reading. Can you help?”
“All she does is watch TV and watch TV. I want her to pick up a book and read.”
“I don’t think my child is reading at the level that he should. What can you do to help?”
These are the top three questions we get from concerned parents and guardians who want to raise readers and are not sure where to begin. The journey to raising a child who loves books is one that’s made up of a lot of intentional tactics that pays off in the end.
Your work is made easy when your child naturally gravitates to books but unfortunately, some (read many) children have formed preconceived notions about books that are not true. They often describe books as difficult and boring. In order to change their behaviour towards books, parents will need to address children's perception about books. Since we are your partners in raising readers, Booksie has compiled a list of tried and tested ways to motivate children to become readers. These methods will help children discover the joy of reading for themselves.
It starts with you. Exhibit the love of reading.
Children model the behaviour they see from parents and older siblings. They are always watching what grownups do and often imitate their actions. As adults, we can exhibit the behaviour we want to see from our children. One of the easiest ways to raise readers is for parents to be readers themselves. We are not talking about reading the Bible or a newspaper or messages on your phone. Here, we are talking about novels and nonfiction books. When parents form a habit of reading often, they inadvertently teach their children to also read.
Make family storytime a part of your routine.
Another way to motivate children to read is to be intentional about reading with them and to make it more fun. Dedicate a specific time in the day to storytime. We hear a lot about bedtime stories and reading to children just before they go to bed is one sure way to get them to appreciate books and look forward to reading.
The books you read should be interesting and simple to understand. When reading a story with animals, ask your child to make some of the animal sounds or make them yourself. Better still you can get the entire family involved to act out the story after it has been read. Easy arts and crafts activities can also be done before or after reading. Children love arts and crafts. Engaging in these activities will allow children to associate reading with fun instead of thinking of it as a chore.
Tip: statistics show that children who read for just 20 minutes at home everyday will have heard 1.8 million words and will have read for 851 hours hours by grade 6. They will also likely score more than 90% of their peers on a standardised test.
Ensure that children have easy access to books.
The more books a child has the more likely they are going to read. It is important that children are surrounded by books at an early age. You can even start when they are newborns. There should be a variety to the books that are bought so that they are able to choose what they are most interested in. To reduce the cost of buying books children can be enrolled in a book club or you can subscribe to a local children’s library.
Tip: It is important to make the storybooks visible. Please ensure that for younger children, you display the front cover of the books and that you rearrange the books periodically to make the arrangement look fresh.
Buy books with colourful illustration and simple storylines.
A beautiful illustrated storybook can be the reason a child picks it up to read. Most children’s books are filled with colourful illustrations that enhance the stories in the book. They are equally as important as the words and are essential for children who do not know how to read yet. Images help them imagine characters and objects while you read to them. Through pictures children learn and understand the world around them. It is important that children are excited about the books they read. A child will describe a book as boring if the illustration is dull and the storyline is confusing and long. Books that are mostly enjoyed by children are ones they can read and understand for themselves.
Tip: For younger children who don’t know how to read yet, you can involve them in the reading experience by having them predict what is going to happen based on illustrations. This will ensure that they stay engaged throughout the storytime.
Buy books that focus on your child’s interest.
Every child is unique and is interested in different things. Children may have interests in sports, superheroes, cooking, animals and many more. Getting storybooks related to a child’s interest will increase his/her desire to read the book because they get to learn more about whatever they enjoy.
Recognise and celebrate achievements.
Parents can use positive reinforcement to motivate and encourage children to read more. Clapping, cheering, giving high fives are simple and effective ways to show that you are proud of them for reading. Celebrating your child for the action of reading a book will encourage them to read again. Rewarding important progress in reading may increase the desire for them to do more. It is important for parents not to shame children when they are unable to read. Instead parents can recognise the effort a child is putting into reading and encourage them to do more.
Booksie is committed to helping parents raise children who love books and are excellent readers. Click here to check out our reading lessons, book club and storytime events. Don't hesitate to email us if you have any questions!