Top Tips for Raising a Reader
A love for reading introduces your child to a world of adventures, curiosity, and learning – and it also helps builds your child’s language skills! But how do you encourage your child to become an avid reader? It all starts at infancy.
Here are our top tips for raising a reader, broken down for infants, toddlers, and adolescents.
Even if it may seem a little silly reading aloud to a newborn, you should start your baby on books from day one – even if all they do is try to eat the corners of the book. While the benefits may not seem obvious at this age, they’re learning something at every stage through reading. Here’s how to start off a positive relationship with books from infancy:
Make it a part of your daily routine
Either before naptime, at bedtime, or at any time that works in your newborn schedule, try to read aloud every day. Even just 10-15 minutes a day can make a world of difference to your baby’s development!
Let them explore books how they want
As your baby gets a bit older, they may start to slap the pages, mouth the book, or hold and flip through pages themselves. Instead of focusing on reading an entire story, let your baby explore books however they choose, while continuing to talk and point things out.
Use different voices and emotions
Changing the tone of your voice helps your baby learn to make sounds and pick up on different speech patterns. Reading in different voices for each character, in different emotions during the storyline, or in a sing-song rhythm makes reading fun even for babies who love seeing people acting silly.
Re-read favourite books
At this age, repetition is everything! Even if your tired of reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar for the 7th time this week, remember that your toddler is learning and enjoying the pattern and rhythm of the text.
Let them play out the book
If your toddler is very active, like most are, getting them to sit still for an entire book can cause conflict – which is what you want to avoid when it comes to reading! If you start a book and they start to seem uninterested, try to make it active by letting them act out animals or dress up as characters.
Relate books to real life
Once your toddler has discovered some favourite books, you can point out things in real life that relate back to that book. For example, if your toddler loves a marine life book, you can take them on a trip to the aquarium to see them in real life. This makes books come alive to toddlers.
Think about your toddler’s personality
Is your toddler interested in horses? Do they love going on camping trips? Find books that cover these favourite topics to keep your toddler excited about reading. When they are interested or can relate to a book, it will increase their attention span and make them more enthusiastic about reading overall.
As your child grows up and starts going to school and having their own interests, it’s important to encourage reading while not enforcing it or making it seem like a chore. Here are our top tips for getting school-age kids to love reading:
Don’t ask too many questions
When your children are younger, they may like being asked questions about their favourite points of the book and what they think of things. But as your child gets older, asking too many questions about the books they’re reading may make it seem more like a quiz. If they want to talk about their recent reads, listen and ask questions. If they don’t seem too keen on it, don’t force a conversation.
Read the book, then watch the movie
Most kids love movies, so one way to encourage reading is to look up some movies that are based on books and make it a family activity – everyone gets a copy of the book and once everyone reads it, you can have a family movie night and discuss the book vs. movie.
Bring them along to pick out their own books
Some kids prefer nonfiction books, and other kids love fantasy books. The best way to get your kids excited about reading is to take outings to buy or check out books that they choose themselves. You can go to a local garage sale, thrift shift, used book store, or library for books on a budget!
Discover book series
From Harry Potter to Judy Bloom, getting your kids hooked on a series is one way to get them motivated and excited about reading. Once they like one book in a series, they’ll have fun collecting and reading the rest. It also makes reading easier for kids when they already know the characters, themes, and tone used in a series instead of jumping into new books back to back.
Setup a reading space in your home
Whether you have a spare room that you turn into a library, or you setup new furniture and shelving in a corner of an existing room, having a designated quiet space may encourage your kids to explore, discover, and find refuge through books.
With these tips, we hope your child grows up with a love of literacy!