Finding time to read is important to developing literacy skills for all kids. And there are many easy and convenient ways to make reading a part of each day — even when it’s tough to find time to sit down with a book.
Car trips, errands, and waits in checkout lines and the doctor’s office are all opportunities for reading. Keep books or magazines in your car, diaper bag, or backpack to pull out whenever you’re going to be in one place for a while. Even if you can’t finish a book, read a few pages or discuss some of the pictures. Encourage older kids to bring favorite books and magazines along wherever you go.
Other reading moments to take advantage of throughout the day:
Reading opportunities are everywhere you go.
Read signs aloud to your baby while you’re driving. Ask your preschooler to “read” pictures on boxes at the store and tell you about them. And have older kids tell you what’s on the shopping list. Even routine tasks around the house, like cooking, can provide reading moments. With younger kids, read recipes aloud; ask older kids to help by telling you how much flour to measure. Give your child a catalog to read while you look at the mail. Ask relatives to send your child letters or e-mail and read them together.
Even when you’re trying to get things done, you can encourage reading. If your child complains of boredom when you’re cleaning, for instance, ask him or her to read aloud from a favorite book to you while you work. Younger kids can tell you about the pictures in their favorite books.
And make sure kids get some time to spend quietly with books, even if it means bypassing or cutting back on other activities, like time in front of the TV or playing video games.
Most important, be a reader yourself. Kids who see their parents reading are likely to join them and become readers, too!
For many kids, reading just doesn’t come easily. Some kids have difficulty connecting letters and their corresponding sounds. Others have yet to discover that special enchanting story that grabs the imagination and shows just how fun reading can be. For all kids, though, being at ease with letters, their sounds, and words is an important foundation for learning throughout life.
Here are a few simple ways to help kids become eager readers:
Start with your child’s picks.
Comics or joke books may not be your first choice to cultivate literacy, but they can motivate kids to read. Don’t worry that these texts may not be substantial enough. They can play important roles in helping kids understand some fundamentals, like how events take place in a sequence and stories are laid out. They also help build vocabulary and show that books can be visually appealing. Once your child becomes comfortable with the experience of reading, you can encourage other literature selections with a variety of challenging content.
Read and reread and reread.
Many kids reach for the same books over and over again. That’s OK. Through repetition kids can master the text and eventually sail through it with ease and confidence. Each new reading of the book may also help them understand it just a little better. And that positive experience may inspire them to give new books a try.
By reading aloud, you can help build your child’s vocabulary, show that you enjoy reading for fun, and help your child connect sounds with letters on the page. Above all, reading aloud provides together time that you’ll both enjoy. And it doesn’t have to end once kids get older. The comfort of a parent’s voice and undivided attention is something kids never outgrow.
Create opportunities to read and write beyond the pages.
Provide kids with many rewarding chances to read every day. Write notes and leave them on a pillow, in a lunchbox, or in a pocket. Ask friends and relatives to send postcards and letters. Leave magnetic letters and words on the refrigerator, and you may find kids spontaneously creating words, sentences, and stories. On road trips or errands, play word games that strengthen language skills. You might try “I Spy” (“I spy something that starts with an ‘a’ …”) or games where you pick a category like “food” and then everyone has to name foods that begin with a certain letter. Kids often like reading signs seen while you’re on the road, like those on restaurants.
Get help if you’re worried.
If you’re concerned about your child’s ability or willingness to read, don’t wait to get help. Consult with your child’s doctor or teacher. If they share your concern, they may be able to suggest resources to help your child become an eager reader.