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7 tips for developing a child’s passion for reading

How to help your child love readingLearning to read is one of the areas of a child’s development that makes parents extremely
anxious.

Reading is such an essential life skill that impacts learning in all areas. Along with oral
language it lays the foundation for learning to write. It is only natural that parents wish for their
children to become confident readers but developing a love of reading is also vitally important
because children who enjoy reading will continue to read through out their life and the benefits are
numerous.

Children have innate love of books but sometimes in an attempt to encouragement reading development we actually kill off this passion.

Here are a few tips on how can we simultaneously develop a passion for reading while teaching children to read.

7 tips for developing a child’s passion for reading

Start reading aloud early

You can actually read to your child from birth! Three small books a day is perfect.

It is incredibly beneficial for language development because there is a correlation between the amount of words spoken to a child in context and a their vocabulary at age two. The more words they hear the better and the more words they have in their vocabulary the more successful you will be at reading and at school in general.

But don’t treat this as a learning experience think of the time spent reading with your child as bonding experience in which you simply enjoy the reading process together and as a bonus you child will already be developing a love of books and reading.

Encourage reading rituals

As your child grows you can set up some little rituals around reading time that further nurture a love of reading.

Set up a little reading corner with books that can be easily accessed. Invest in some board books at first so that your child can start turning pages and getting involved. Set up a nice cosy areas with cushions or beanbags, or maybe a teepee or an armchair that you can snuggle into together.

Try to set up regular reading times throughout the day so that it actually happens — even on those crazy busy days.

Visit your local library

Join your local library and try and visit on a regular basis. Most libraries have ‘Baby Rhyme Time’
sessions which is a great introduction to the library.

Give your child their own special library bag, maybe personalise it with their name or favourite colours. Make a visit to the library a real event they’ll look forward too. Let them select their own books and then have a little play, afterwards treat them with a little picnic where and enjoy the books together.

Make reading fun

Make the reading experience as fun as possible, make silly voices or sound effects and incorporate actions or even use little props or costumes to go with the story, like a silly hat.

Capitalise on your child’s interests and select books related to them even if it means reading the book about a digger for the twentieth time! Don’t set up rules and restrictions either, let them read whatever they fancy, even if you think it is too easy or hard, remember if they are reading then you have won!

Don’t teach reading

Remember reading with your child is first and foremost a bonding experience — don’t kill off any passion for reading by placing expectations and pressure around reading. Children learn best in safe, secure and relaxed environments so pushing them into formal learning too soon is, quite simply, detrimental to their confidence and self esteem and completely at odds with nurturing a love of reading.

Three-year-olds don’t need to know letter and sounds — and nor do four-years-olds for that matter — so don’t force it with flashcards and worksheets!

Ironically children who are regularly read to for enjoyment will naturally develop curiosity around letters and sounds. Rather than inflicting formal methods on them expose them to letters through music, puzzles and games or have an alphabet chart and so on but remember there is no long-term benefit to pushing children into formal learning before school but there are potential pitfalls such as creating anxiety around learning or making a child feel inadequate and destroying their passion for reading.

Book selection

Really any books a child wishes to read is wonderful, as mentioned earlier don’t place restrictions
or rules around reading.

If however, you are encouraging you child to read a wider range of books try this old formula for selecting books. ‘One old book, one new book and a favourite’.

New books expose your child to new language, ideas and concepts. Re-reading books over and over helps children understand how books work, and develop confidence with reading, reciting books by heart
is actually one of the first steps to reading independently.

And reading a favourite book means a child has fallen in love with a book so their passion for reading has been ignited but yes this does mean you may have to read a particular book a thousand times!

Don’t stop reading aloud

Sometimes when children start reading independently or when they start school parents stop
reading aloud, but some of the dreadful things children have to read at school are certainly not
inspiring.

Unfortunately this is when many children begin to dislike reading. Suddenly the fun has been taking away from reading, children have less choice around what they read and when they read and it becomes a chore.

That it is why it is imperative that you continue to read aloud to your child for as long as possible. Remind them that there are still great books out there with wonderful stories and great characters as well as exciting adventures to be had.

Don’t let ‘school reading’ put out that flame, keep their passion for reading burning brightly.

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