This topic immediately took me back to my own childhood. My mom would regularly take my brother and I to the library and have us pick out at least 3 books each. I was an avid reader even as a young child. The problem wasn’t getting me to pick three books it was not exceeding the amount of items checked out! My brother, on the other hand, hated reading! The tips below are based on my experience both as a child with a sibling that didn’t love to read and as a mom with a love for reading that I want to nurture in my own children.
Tips to cultivate young readers-
- Start them early- A great way to get kids interested in books is to incorporate reading in their daily routine from a young age. It’s never too early to start reading to them!
- Let them explore!- Let them browse the shelves, pick up books, leaf through the pages, judge the cover (couldn’t help myself) and get a feel for the book. Allowing them to discover it on their own might encourage them to start reading right away.
- Try new genres- As long as it’s age appropriate, let them try new genres! Maybe you aren’t into Sci-Fi but what if that makes the difference between forcing them to read and them devouring the book? How else can they know what they like if they don’t explore storylines, characters, scenarios, and plots they didn’t even know existed?
- As long as there’s words, it’s reading!- My brother often opted for comics, I didn’t think that was “fair” because I was reading novels. My mom understood novels didn’t interest my brother and as long as he was reading, she didn’t care if it was an instruction manual! The point was, he was enjoying what he read and most importantly he was reading!
- Set a reading minimum- Most kids could sit in front of the television or play a video game for hours. How long would they last reading? Work with them to set a reading goal for how long they’ll read a day. You can set a timer, count the pages or determine a number of chapters. You might even set up a contest and see who reads more. Log the pages or amount of time read by each of you every day and at the end of the week the winner gets a treat!
- Read together- It might be a good idea for them to enjoy a book on their own but also have a chapter book or a series that you enjoy together. Make it a part of your routine to enjoy a chapter a day together, you guessed it! Bedtime is a great time to bond and get some reading in at the end of the day.
- Be silly!- Read the book in different voices. Have the narrator be from a different country, use a funny accent, or a silly voice. Keep them guessing so they never know who is going to read the book when you pick it up or let them pick their favorite narrator to read it!
- Read along to music- I took a child development course that taught us to read books to classical music. It was amazing! The teacher read the same story to 3 different songs and you’d be amazed at the difference the music made! He let the music set the pace, slowing down and speeding up so the story itself had a tempo. He’d raise his voice and lower it letting the music provide the dramatic effect. My 7 and 1-year-old alike love to listen to stories read to classical music. I also enjoy it because the same book feels like a different story depending what song I read it to. As I read it to the tempo of the music, it might make one part of the story really dramatic and a different song on a different day would play that part of the story down only to highlight another part of the story.
- Don’t rush through the book- Part of the magic of books are the images (especially in picture books!). As adults, we have a tendency to speed through the book and rush to get to the end. Whether the book has pictures or not, slow down and let them enjoy the imagery on the page or in their mind. If the book has pictures, remember kids love looking at the pictures not only because they’re colorful but because that’s where a lot of the magic of the story happens! Let them look at the picture in detail. Ask them questions, allow them to tell you things they notice in the pictures.
- Let them tell the story- This may not be about reading but what if you allowed them to tell the story? Let them look at the picture and come up with a new story based on the story the illustrations tell them. What if something in the background became the main part of the story? What if an animal hidden in the picture became the protagonist? Let them get carried away with their imagination and encourage them to come up with their own story. What if they become the author? How would they retell the story?
- Make it fun!- Take an hour and go to the local library and sit on bean bags and just read together. Check out the same book and have a book club that only you guys are members of. You can read a chapter at lunch and they can read it after school. Talk about what you liked most about it before bed. Make a reading corner someplace in the house. Pinterest has some great ideas! Make a tent, fort, or another special area where they can go and read. Get creative! Better yet ask your child what would make reading more fun!
These are the ideas that popped into my head when thinking of how to get kids to read when they’d rather be on the television, computer, tablet or just doing anything but read. Of course, there are many factors that come into play but these are just a few ideas I hope can help spark your own ideas to cultivate young readers in your home!
You might enjoy this post on role-playing with your child.
What are your thoughts on this post? Do you have any ideas to get kids reading? What things have you done to inspire your kids to read? Do you have bookworms at home or would they rather do anything other than read? Did you like any suggestions in particular? Will you try any of the suggestions? Have you already done any of them? I’d love to hear your thoughts and stories, feel free to share in the comments!