Long after your child has abandoned truck racing and tea parties, one activity from their childhood will linger on into adulthood. Reading is an activity which will follow your child throughout her life, whether she’s a self-motivated bookworm who devours story after story as she grows older, or whether she uses reading as a tool which opens new doors to her as she develops interests and curiosities as an older child. How do you instill an enthusiasm for reading?
Get excited. When you play pretend with your child or chase them around the playground, you try not to simply go through the motions. You create drama, immerse yourself in play, and match your child’s level of enthusiasm. When you read to your child, don’t simply read the words in front of you. Do funny voices. Tap into suspenseful moments. Cheer with your child when something surprising occurs.
Read every day. Some parents incorporate reading books into their bedtime routine as a way of bringing reading into their child’s everyday experiences. You can read with your child at any time of day, but make sure to make reading a priority, something that you do together everyday, just the way you eat dinner together, give your child a bath, or get ready for school or daycare. Reading should be fun, but it should also be a part of your routine, something that comforts your child and is a part of her world.
Model reading. We know one parent who realized when her children were young that they only ever saw her reading on her phone or her Kindle, and therefore they weren’t registering that she was reading books at all. She abandoned her Kindle for a few years, opting for physical books instead that showed her children that she, too, loved to immerse herself in a book, turning pages and working her way through to the conclusion.
Find your child’s interests. When you choose a book for yourself to read, you likely pick out material that caters to your interests. Your child has the same needs! If your little one has no interest in trucks, but loves to learn about animals, fill his shelves with books about lions, tigers, cats, dogs, and giraffes. Even better, bring your child to the library or the bookstore with you and ask him to choose which books appeal to him.
Ask questions. Your preschooler can’t sound out all of the words just yet, so you’ll need to find other ways for him to more actively engage with books at this age. Ask him questions about what the main characters are feeling. Ask him what he thinks might happen next. Ask him to identify the different animals or vehicles or buildings on the page. That will allow him to take a more active role in reading his book.
How have you instilled a love for reading in your young child? Let us know in the comments section!