Many first grade teachers say they can tell immediately when a child’s parents read to them at home—they’re better readers, and they actually look forward to reading time. Part of the reason reading to your child is so successful is because children who are consistently read to begin associating quality parent time (and love) with books.
Create a Special Reading Area
Dedicate a unique—and fun—area for reading. Create a comfortable place with bright colors, beanbag chairs, and unique bookshelves. Making the reading area your child’s favorite spot may include housing some of your child’s favorite toys or stuffed animals, or their favorite blanket.
Create a Special Reading Time
Bedtime stories are a great way to help your child fall asleep (and help them have good dreams instead of nightmares.), but oftentimes parents are too tired at the end of the day to really devote the time—or the energy—for reading. Choose a time before dinner, if possible, and make time during the afternoons on weekends. You can even read to your child while they’re eating breakfast.
Make the Library a Fun Outing
Kids love going to new places. Take your child to the library and make it an exciting trip. Meet the librarian and see if your local library hosts reading circles or events for children.
Make It a Contest
All kids love games. Make a chart in your house and have everyone in the family participate in a reading contest. See who can read the most books over the course of a month. Whomever wins get a present of their choice (or a book of their choice.) For children who have not yet learned to read, a contest will encourage them to ask you to read even more books for them.
Make It Imaginative
Reading is more about the imagination than the words, particularly for younger children who are just learning to read. Really paint a picture for your child when reading a book—elaborate on the costumes the characters are reading, or ask your child to describe to you the scene they think you’ve described. If you’re reading from a picture book show your child the pictures first, and then read the page that corresponds to it.
Make Labels for Everything in the House
Put signs up that describe basic objects in your house: Door, Stove, and Bed. Read the words aloud to your child and help them identify items with words. Whenever you come across the same words in a book, point to the word and ask your child if they’ve seen that word before.
Take Your Child Shopping for Books
When your children go to the bookstore with you and see hundreds of books, they can’t help but get excited. Help your child find books of subjects that interest them, and let your child take the books up to the cash register itself. The sense of pride in choosing their own books will encourage children to look at reading as something fun for them, not a chore.
Talk about the Books You Read after You Read Them
Make fun games around the characters in a book. Help your child see the characters as friends and you increase their emotional attachment with the characters—and the book. Ask your child what their favorite parts of a book are. If they can’t remember, read the book again—or hand the book to the child and ask them to find the part they remember best. If your child is still learning how to read, activities like this encourage him or her to read faster, because they’ll want to find the part they like on their own.
Point out Road Signs
When your child is with you, point out the signs and explain what the letters mean. Your child will start remembering the combination of letters for signs such as your street sign, or a stop sign.
When you’re excited about reading, your child gets excited. Every time you buy a new book, show your child and explain why you chose that book, and why you’re excited to start reading it. It’s the little things like this that help kids associate reading with something fun—and that is what will make them love reading, for life.