Friday, April 29, 2016

Why and How to Encourage Children to Read

Almost nothing in life is more important than literacy. Not being able to read or having a low literacy level affects everything from driving to taking medicine, not to mention applying for and functioning on a job. A favorite quote I often share on Twitter is "Children are made readers on the laps of their parents." If you read to children when they are very young, and if they see you reading, they will develop an interest in reading and learning in general.

Originally published October 2011 via that site that no longer exists...

How to Encourage your Child to Read


Reading is an important component to success, and the best way to encourage children to read is for the adults in their lives to set an example as a readers. If children are read to from a very young age, they learn to appreciate it as entertainment long before they ever discover reading as a “work.” With the right foundation children can learn to look upon reading as the ticket to unending adventure as well as a gateway to unlimited knowledge.

All children love stories and imaginative play; if children are introduced to reading early enough, they will consider it a part of fun time – AKA play – and regularly ask (or even demand) to be read to. As they grow older, they will want to do the reading to their parents and others, and appreciate books as much as they do their most prized toys and games.
Aside from being read to on a regular (if not daily) basis, the next important factor that will encourage children to want to read is having an assortment of books at home. It is important that these books always be age appropriate with regard to both subject matter and reading level. Books with pictures but no text will encourage very early readers to use their imaginations while they interpret the pictures to make up their own stories, and chapter books will help proficient readers stay interested as they grow out of “baby books”.

Thrift stores are a great source of books to help build a young reader library as several books can usually be purchased for less than one dollar (U.S.), and often books are put on sale for half price, making them even more affordable. As soon as a child is old enough (or has facility enough) to read beginner books on their own, they should be taken to the public library. One of the best things that can happen in a child’s life is getting their own library card.

As children get older and become more independent, they also discover other interests. Having both fiction and non-fiction books at their disposal that help them learn more about those interests and other people’s experiences with them is another way to encourage them to continue to read.

Not all reading material has to be in the form of books, however. One of the best ways to encourage a child to read is to write letters to them. Even early readers can comprehend short notes and begin to write back. Jokes, funny sayings, instructions on where to find special treats, can help to start a tradition with children that will continue well into adulthood.

The most important factor in encouraging a child to read is “not dropping the ball.” It is not enough to get a child started with reading and provide them with books; the ongoing interest must be encouraged and kept alive by activities and discussion. It is extremely important for the adults in a child’s life to set aside both quiet time reading as well as time for reflection where the child can talk about what was read and share any thoughts or feelings he or she might have.
First at home, and later at school, children develop an appreciation for reading when it is practiced regularly in their environment. It is an easy thing to encourage a child to read when they have learned to value it early on.

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