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This is a guest post written by Samara Kamenecka. Her bio appears at the end of the post. Reading is important to education and to a child’s overall ability to function in the world. Driving is difficult when you can’t follow the signs, and cooking isn’t possible when most cookbooks don’t tell you much with the pictures. These are only a few examples of areas in your child’s life where reading will be important. Now is the time to help them not only learn how to read, but learn how to love reading and want to keep doing it in the future. Here are eight fun ways to incorporate reading into your lives.
Bring the Book to Life: Read Aloud
Make sure to take time daily to read aloud to your children. Bring the book to life with vivid descriptions and different voices for the characters. You may not think you do the voice very well, but your children will enjoy the different tones and the chance to laugh.
Introduce Them to the Subjects They Enjoy in Book Form
Finding books that grab a child’s interest is a big part of showing them what reading can really be like. Children who get to read about a topic that draws them in and makes them want to keep reading are the ones who are more likely to continue reading when they don’t have to do so.
Make a Reading Nook
Create a fun space in your home that will make your children want to read. A welcoming corner of the living room with soft pillows and attractive bookshelves or a space in their room that allows them to sprawl out and do some reading in comfort can make the difference in refusal to read and the children who are eager to curl up with a book.
It’s not necessary to make big changes in your home to create this space. You can create a reading boat out of a plastic storage bin or a reading chair near a basket filled with fun bookmarks. The important thing is providing a space that looks fun and encourages them to read instead of turning on the TV or picking up a tablet.
Be a Good Example
Parenting can be busy. You have tons to do and rarely have enough time to get it done. However, children don’t learn by you telling them to read; they learn by seeing you do it. Therefore, one of the best methods to instill a love of learning is to show your children that you have that love.
People who read when their children see them can have the satisfaction of seeing their children want to read because they want to be like their parents. It also expands your horizons, helps you learn new things and is a relaxing distraction during life, which can get hectic.
Make it Part of the Routine
Choose a time that is likely to fit in every day – like bedtime or a special hour after lunch – where you encourage them to sit and read. Make sure during this time they see you sit down with a book instead of your phone or tablet. Show them that reading is fun and you also want to do it every day. They will probably follow suit.
This time of the day can also be your time to read aloud, but if that’s the case, encourage them to pick a time on their own to read a book of their choice.
Kids typically love routine, and they will help you remember to read when you might have forgotten. This is another way to encourage their love of the activity.
Connect the Book to Fun
Make a craft that goes with the book or create a character out of the book as a sock puppet or a paper figure. This can be another way to bring books to life. Showing the children the characters outside the pages of the book can be a great way to keep their attention. Then, they get to learn about this character by listening to the book or by reading it themselves.
Make Books a Reward
Make books part of your incentive in your house. Purchase them and give them as gifts for good behavior or a reward when they have done all of their chores or been extra kind to their siblings. If you make books something they want to receive, they are more likely to want to sit and read them as well.
This is a great way to get new books into your child’s hands and make them really appealing, since they were a surprise and a reward for a positive behavior at the same time.
Talk About Books
Make books a part of the daily conversation. If you share fun parts of the book you’re reading or encourage them to talk about a book at a meal or during some downtime during the day, your kids will see how fun it is to read and share that experience with the family.
Try reading books with certain themes so you can discuss them later. Make one week a pirate week or a Lego week. Another week can be all about pets or exotic animals. You can compare the stories you have read and share ideas about new ones. It entertains and excites children, so they want to keep reading to be able to share new stories during these discussions.
In all of these ideas, the important thing is to bring reading to life in your home. If they’re only reading at school and having trouble, they’ll never fall in love with reading. More practice and fun ways to build on reading make the difference, so encourage your kids to read at home. The love can start with you.
Samara Kamenecka is a New York-born freelance writer and translator living in Madrid. When she’s not busy trying to mold her two kids into functional, contributing members of society, she can usually be found enjoying a glass of wine (or three), or eating ice cream straight out of the container. You can find her blogging over at Tiny Fry, and you can also connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.