Want your child to read more?

Reading is one of the great pleasures a child can experience. Photograph: Teachers on Call
Reading is one of the great pleasures a child can experience. Photograph: Teachers on Call

ENCOURAGING YOUR CHILD to read doesn’t have to be a difficult challenge. While some children may be more resistant to the idea of reading more than others, there are a variety of tips and techniques you can use to make reading seem just as fun and exciting as their other entertainment options.

A child who learns to read for pleasure, and not just because he is being forced to read for school, will tend to perform at a much higher level both in school and throughout the rest of his life.

Here are a few tips that as a smart parent, you can use to encourage your children to read more:

Make reading interactive

Tess Pajaron
Tess Pajaron

If your child is not yet speaking, you can read to them, pointing out interesting things about the story after it is over. You can let them point to the pictures while you name the items shown. Once your child begins speaking, they can help you with this.

Have them go back and identify certain parts of the story that they found exciting or wonderful. Ask them lots of questions about the story in order to really get their minds thinking about it. Let them ask you questions. By sharing your own feelings about the story with them, they will feel that it is a fun activity, not a quiz.

Let them draw their own illustrations

This tip works wonders to get your children thinking on more than one level about the stories they read. It’s great to use with children who aren’t yet writing, as well. The key is to provide your children with as many art supplies as possible: crayons, paint, glitter and glue, macaroni… Then ask them to draw their favorite part of the story.

Maybe their favorite character, or a particularly exciting scene. Then be sure to display their masterpieces where other members of the family can see them. When someone later asks them what their drawings are about, they can practice their own storytelling skills.

Read all the time

Just as with any activity that you are trying to master, you aren’t going to read one book and consider the job done. Until the reading habit is firmly established in them, you will want to read stories to them, let them read stories to you, and give them time to read stories on their own several times a day.

The more you can set up reading as a normal, routine part of their lives, the faster they will become avid readers.

Let your children see you reading for pleasure

This works particularly well if you establish private reading times throughout the day where everyone grabs their favorite story and finds their most comfortable seat and then enjoys their book on their own. You can share opposite ends of the couch as you read your book and your child reads theirs.

They’ll see you enjoying the experience and they’ll come to equate reading time with special family moments. After quiet reading time is over, you can come together again and share your stories. They can tell you what was in the story they just read and you can tell them about the story you were reading, leaving out any content that would be too mature for them, obviously.

Surround them with a wide variety of reading material

This is one of the most exciting times to be a reader. Between traditional paper books, comic books, graphic novels, and e-readers and other electronic means of storytelling, there is enough variety to keep them challenged and interested. While it is important to keep traditional paper books in abundant supply around the house, you can vary the reading experience for them by showing them the joy of all different types of stories.

Developing the desire in your child to read for their own pleasure will give them an added advantage in school. Children who read frequently are comfortable with having lots of new ideas and can process things much faster than their friends who don’t read.

Tess Pajaron is a book addict working at Open Colleges, one of Australia’s online educators. She’s a great travel lover and an experienced writer.

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