While creating a reader out of your kids might seem easy and like common sense, sometimes kids surprise us and just don’t get into the whole reading thing. As well, it is easy to forget that sometimes we need to nurture and grow those reading skills–particularly when life badgers us with distractions, the laundry piles up, the dog suddenly needs to be taken to the vet, and those lunches aren’t going to make themselves. So, here is a little reminder for us all on how to create readers in our kids and why creating readers is so important.
Why Reading is Important for Children
Being a strong reader helps a kid out in school in huge ways. If they can read well, they can learn and absorb ideas.
Kids who are literate are more likely to have higher grades, continue their education, less likely to drop out, and less likely to do jail time. (That, right there, makes you want to pick up a book and glue it to your kid, doesn’t it!)
Reading helps develops the growing child’s brain. It helps kids bring complex and abstract ideas together. It teaches them how to express their thoughts and feelings. Books help them learn about different cultures, ideas, ways to solve problems (Think Junie B. Jones–she is always solving problems!), and deal with situations in an interesting and entertaining way. A good book can pull a child into it’s story, and allow the children to empathize with the characters and feel as though they are in the adventure battling evil and coming up with solutions. By reading about how others have dealt with a tough situation it lessens the feeling of being alone in children who are dealing with similar issues. As well, children learn how to handle their own tough situations by reading about them in stories.
Plus, reading is fun! Kids can pick up a book and suddenly be transported to a different time, place, and adventure. It can make them laugh, wonder, and even cry. Reading helps children develop a natural curiosity about the world, put ideas together and solve problems. Is there anything better than a good book?
Activities That Help Grow Readers
- Go to the public library and browse around. Let your kids thumb through all sorts of books and discover new interests.
- Join a kids program at the library. (Seeing other kids loving reading makes it seem ‘normal,’ plus these programs are a TON of fun!)
- Read in front of your kids. Model the behaviour–it makes a HUGE impact. It doesn’t matter what you read–magazines, cereal boxes, novels, newspapers, anything!
- Read to your kids. (Bedtime stories are a precious time every day when I get to bond and share a story with my kids. Plus, it helps motivate my daughter to get to bed in time.) Also, by reading to kids they learn how words sound, and it increases their vocabulary exponentially.
- Go to the bookstore. Browse. There is nothing like a glossy, new book!
- Talk about books, newspapers, magazines. Share what you are reading by talking about it. Talk about why you like it. Or why you don’t.
- Read the cereal box. Seriously.
- Go to book signings (libraries and book stores are great places to seek out signing)–it’s like meeting someone famous! Kids love it. Plus, if they have meet the person who wrote or illustrated the book, suddenly they are way more interested in reading it. (It’s another hook into reading.)
- Support your school library. Talk to the librarian. Help your kid find books they enjoy. Fundraise or donate ‘good’ new books. Sometimes school libraries don’t have a good budget and their collection gets ‘tired’ which turns off kids. The school library is huge for developing readers. Did you know a good school library that is adequately funded and staffed increases test scores?
- Let the kids read what they want to read. My daughter was into fairy books and read over 100 of them. Yes, I was a little tired of the same plot, but she loved them. By letting her buy them and read them every night it has increased her love of reading in a huge way. Now, we’ve managed to expand to other books by other authors and at a higher reading level.
- Boys prefer nonfiction. As a general rule, boys prefer nonfiction and books with action (not so much feelings). It is natural. Nurture and encourage their interests.
- Reading is Reading. Does it matter what your kid is reading exactly? No. Reading increases spelling skills, vocabulary, and other skills simply by doing it. Let them read what interests them and they are more likely to continue reading throughout their life.
- Let them choose. If a book looks like their thing, but they can’t get into it, don’t force it. It’s okay not to finish a book or to choose a different one. Sometimes the time simply isn’t right for that book.
How about you? How do you encourage reading in your household?