Five ways to encourage a child's love of reading
Reading is probably the most important skill that a child can learn. Although school teachers educate children to read, families are the ones that can help a child to appreciate and cultivate an enjoyment of reading; that’s a gift that lasts a lifetime.
‘I have a passion for teaching kids to become readers, to become comfortable with a book, not daunted. Books should be funny, exciting and wonderful; and learning to be a reader gives a terrific advantage.’ Roald Dahl
At Kumon, we believe developing a love for reading is the cornerstone to all other education. Here are five suggestions for ways to encourage your child to read and really benefit from the gains of engaging with literature:
1. Find a book that interests them: half the battle is finding a way for a child to engage with literature without it feeling like a chore, so finding a topic they're interested in can be a great way to open the door.
Think about activites and subjects they like i.e.; space, dinosaurs, dancing etc and find reading material on this topic. Start a conversation about the book and let them share their enthusiasm on the subject with you. If they didn't enjoy the book, try to discuss why.
2. Read together and make it fun: don't be afraid to really engage with books do voices for younger (and sometimes older!) children, act out scenes, visit places where characters might have lived. Reading at home should be an enjoyable activity for both you and your child and can provide some lovely bonding opportunities.
If they do not feel confident enough to read to you, asking a child to read to a younger sibling occasionally can bbe extremley useful too; the reading material may be less challenging, and they'll benefit from the enjoyment their sibling will experience in the book and from sharing this time together. It could even become part of a new weekly routine!
3. Reflect daily experiences: ask them to read the headlines from a news article or magazine to you as you make breakfast or dinner, or perhaps reading aloud a review of a programme or film you are thinking of watching together. This can be a great way to develop younger readers and to expand their vocabulary. They can ask you how to pronounce words and you can check that they understand what it means.
4. Let them pick their own books: if you can, take your child to the local library. Letting them choose what they want to read, no matter how obscure could be an interesting tactic. If a book sparks their interest, let them read it, or offer to read it to them. If you both do prefer a little more guidance, the Kumon Recommended Reading List is also packed with books they may like to look up and explore for themselves. They’ve been selected as especially useful in providing excellent reading development.
5. Be a role model: one of the most important things you can do to cultivate readers within your family, is to be a reader yourself. If your child sees you make time for reading, they will be more likely to copy your behaviour, even from a very young age. A house full of books doesn’t necessarily encourage a child to read, but helping them to develop a reading habit they take into their teenage years, is a wonderful gift. Reading also provides great opportunities to discuss as a family what you are all reading and what you all enjoy and dislike from the wonderful work of books.