7 Ways to Encourage Children to Read

A week ago at a writers’ and readers’ conference, a group of us were asked by a pregnant colleague how we were able to get our children involved with reading. This is a very personal topic for me. As an English teacher and friend, I have seen people who had little interest in reading as children, so that approach to life was passed along to the next generation.

Years ago, I attended a baby shower where the mom-to-be was receiving an array of gifts. When she opened my gift to her and the baby, I saw her face fall for just a split second. The books I chose were for different ages, set to grow with the child and provide delight for the family as they read them with their growing baby. This family would not consider my lovingly chosen assortment of books special.

I looked around the house and saw no books. To me, this was heartbreaking!

Since then, I have seen other homes with no books. Maybe now, the books are on digital devices. But often, reading to their children is not something people consider important.

Statistics and common sense tell you that children who read learn so much:

  1. They use their imaginations to bring the books to life.
  2. They learn vocabulary.
  3. They learn to reason and evaluate.
  4. They develop an understanding of the world and other people.
  5. They learn more easily in school after learning to read at home.

And, these things are just starters.

Now, assuming that I have made a good case for involving children in reading, here are some ways to encourage children to read. The children could be yours, a relative’s, a neighbor’s, and a child in a program where you volunteer.

7 Ways to Encourage Children to Read:

  1. Read to children from their earliest childhood.
  2. Make reading before bedtime a pleasant interlude before they go to sleep.
  3. Involve the child in reading. Let them finish a sentence, ask questions, respond.
  4. Take them to a library and, as early as possible, get them their own card so they can choose their own books to borrow.
  5. Reward a child with a story. Read their favorites and let them choose what to read once they’ve developed a repertoire of books they know.
  6. Ask them to write their own story, which you can record for them on audio, write down and even have them illustrate it.
  7. Have a story time for your child and his or her friends, asking each of them to bring a book they love to share.

This is a start. Start early, read often, repeat.

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