Parents know reading is a good habit to cultivate in young children but may struggle to find ways to instil that habit in their kids. Even if the kids don’t turn out to be bookworms, it’s still important for them to learn how to read well.
One of the reasons why children may not like reading is because they are either not confident in their abilities, unsure why reading is important or just pressured to do. This makes reading or reading time an unpleasurable activity and turns them off from learning how to read.
So, what can parents do to make reading fun and pleasurable? Check out the tips and tricks below!
1. Adults have to model reading habits
Whether the adult realizes it or not, children copy adult behaviours. If parents want to foster a reading habit in young children, the adults must model good reading habits too. Children who like reading have seen the adults in their life love reading. It also helps to talk about what you’re reading to the child to create interest in the child, even if they can’t read yet.
2. Start with simple books
Building a reading habit in young children takes time and is a process. At age 0 to 2, the kids are in the exploration stage where they’ll be flipping pages, looking at pictures in books and may even hold the book upside down. Block or cardboard books are great for their tiny fingers as it’ll make it easier for them to turn the pages.
At age 3 to 5, they are more interested in rhymes. A way to create interest in learning to read is to give them a phonological awareness by teaching them nursery rhymes and choosing books with repetition and drama. It’s also a time where they enjoy storytelling sessions and love it when adults read to them.
When they get to 6 years old and above, let them choose their reading material whether it’s about princesses or pirates. Reading is for pleasure so it should be fun and not stressful.
3. Don’t limit to just books
Don’t limit a child’s reading materials to just books. Magazines, playing board games and reading the menu play a part in building awareness for words. Computer games that include reading aloud the stories such as Mercer Mayer’s Little Monster series, Madeline and Stellaluna used to help kids learn to read while playing too. Similar games can be found from the Apple Store and Android Playstore for the kids today.
Even audiobooks and e-readers can help foster the love of reading. With an e-reader, the font size of the book can be adjusted to the child’s needs such as larger words or bolded words. Gadgets such as e-readers can help children with disabilities too. With audiobooks, children can learn the correct pronunciation of words.
4. Create a cosy book corner
Create an inviting and cosy reading corner at home to entice young kids to spend time there among books. Lay out some soft pillows or a good and soft chair to sit and read in. Reading should be a fun activity to do and something that’s done for leisure.
“Children won’t find reading pleasurable if there is too much pressure on them so a relaxed atmosphere and a positive ethos around reading is really important,” said Eleanor Webster, a primary school teacher in Nottinghamshire.
5. Bring books to life
Since books tell stories, a way to make kids enjoy reading is to get them interested in the story! After reading the book, take them to watch the movie version or travel to the real-life set or place. For example, if the kid loves Harry Potter, try to bring them to the United Kingdom or a related theme park during the holidays. Parents can even join or make book-themed parties!
6. Turn to books during tough times
When a child faces a problem and needs guidance, parents can turn to books for help. This tells them that books are a resource that can help when they’re feeling sad. Books such as the Berenstain Bears come to mind with similar ones such as the Peppa Pig, Mr. Men and Little Miss series. These books help young children manage feelings such as worries, nightmares and even responsibility.
7. Show interest in their reading
Last but not least, kids feel motivated if the adults show interest in their reading. A way to show this is to ask what they are reading or what’s happening at the moment in the book. Get them to tell you what’s the story is about and praise them for trying or for completing the book.