As a teacher in kindergarten and first grade for many years, one of the most common questions I get from friends and family is “How can I get my child to enjoy reading?” There are a number of ways to do this, but I have 5 ideas I typically give every time.
1. Model, model, model.
Our children pick up on everything we do. If we are modeling a healthy relationship with reading and books, chances are, our kids will want the same. Set aside a time to read for yourself, and make it a sacred time. Talk about what you’re reading, and when shopping in a store such as Target, show them books you are excited to “try.”
2. Visit the library.
I know that I mentioned visiting the library in my last guest post, and it’s for good reason. I remember visiting the library every few weeks as a child with my mom and brothers, and it was always so exciting to have the opportunity to choose books that interested me. It’s also one of the least expensive ways to “sample” different genres, series, and types.
3. Set aside a time to read aloud to your child.
There is a saying by Emilie Buchwald:
“Readers are born in the Laps of their parents.”
This seems like another simple idea, but it’s also a powerful one! Use different voices for different characters, bake treats discussed in the book, discuss the book even days after reading. Helping to foster comprehension after reading will help your child take ownership in their own reading.
4. Allow for repetition.
One of the things I notice in my students is that when they love a book, they LOVE a book, and want to hear it read over and over again. This is actually a great sign that your child is developing a love for reading. If a child makes a connection with a book, it’s good to let them continue to read it repeatedly. Eventually, they’ll move on to a different one, and will have memories of autonomy in reading.
5. Let. Them. Pick.
As a teacher, I’ve seen reader choice as one of the biggest boosters of student reading. If we think about it, we as adults don’t read for pleasure by reading books forced upon us. The same is true for children. One of the main concerns parents come to me with is “my child isn’t reading a book at their level.” That’s perfectly okay! Is it a topic or genre that interests them? Are they reading? That is the point! Of course, parents and teachers should always preview or research books they haven’t read to determine appropriate content, but genre, type, and level of the book should be the least valuable criterion.
Erin Perry is a 9 year Kindergarten teacher in California. She loves Disney, cheetah print, and fostering self-care, creativity and independence in students. She is an auntie to two nephews and a niece.
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