Here are 7 ways you can help your child form a reading habit.
1. Read to your child.
Pick a fun book at your child’s understanding level, but not necessarily at their reading level. He or she doesn’t even need to know how to read for you to start this, the younger, the better. When the story is over for short works, or at any good stopping point, pause and discuss the story. This improves listening comprehension skills and and will help build reading comprehension skills. Even the simplest stories are a basis for conversation and can help your child hone these important skills.
2. Read with your child.
Pick a fun book at or slightly above your child’s reading level and take turns reading pages. Help your child with the harder words, but not so fast that he or she doesn't have to stretch. Don’t make the mistake of reading too long. You want to keep this fun and entertaining and avoid making it seem like a daunting task for your child.
3. Read what your child reads.
Your child’s taste in books may differ from yours, but if you want to make sure he or she is understanding what they are reading, you’ll want to read the same books. This makes it easier to converse about books your child is interested in. The younger your child is, the more you should read what he or she is reading. Take time to discuss books, build common interests, and track your child’s reading comprehension skills. Engaging in conversations about books also helps your child to see that you find reading interesting too – it’s not just something you are enforcing your child to do.
4. Surround your child with good books.
Whether you buy your child books or take him or her to the library, keep your child supplied with good ones! Do some homework on books at your child’s reading level. Newbery Medal and Honor Awards books are a great place to start. These books come in all different subject matters and writing styles and there is something to please even the fussiest of readers. Asking the librarian or your child's teacher for advice also works wonders for finding material that will come alive for your young reader.
5. Give your child incentives to read.
Children love being rewarded for doing something positive. While reading good books is a reward in itself, incentivizing your child to read will really get him or her going. Choose a reward that is age appropriate. It could be something as simple as a treat or candy or even an afternoon playing at the park. Look at what your child treasures and choose something that won't break your budget and fits your schedule. You can even choose different incentives for each child in the family to make it more special and to fit their different tastes.
6. Make a game of reading.
Since we spend so much time in the car these days, why not play a reading game as your family travels. Call out signs and find words that start with certain letters…you can challenge your child to make it through the whole alphabet before you reach your destination. This is a great game that encourages reading and improves critical thinking skills.
7. Create comfortable places to read.
A cozy corner can turn into a reading retreat for your child. Some comfortable pillows or a bean bag, perhaps even a tent. Many classrooms are creating reading corners so your child's teacher may have some great ideas on this. Mostly, keep in mind the child's likes. A boy might like a camouflage-patterned sheet hung up like a pup-tent. A girl might like something pink and flowy to create a castle-like space fit for a princess. An older child might be happier with a cool, comfortable chair.
The most important thing is to keep reading fun. The more fun a child has reading, the more they will want to read. By being an active part in your child's reading, you can guide him or her along the way. Keeping your child challenged in reading and learning will open doors in the future. The reading habits your child forms today will be beneficial for the rest of his or her life.