“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go.”— Dr. Seuss, “I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!”
Before I had kids I read about the 4 Bs (bath, bottle, book, bed). When I started my routine with my oldest I implemented this idea and it worked wonders. She was a perfect sleeper and she has grown to LOVE books. Even when she was 18 months or so I would catch her in the corner of her room flipping through a book. It was the cutest thing!
My second on the other hand is different. I don’t have time to sit and read all the time to her and I haven’t taught her how fun it can be yet (she’s 8 months 🙁 ) I have slowly started though. Through all this and my struggle with reading growing up I thought I would explain some important issues to help your child love to read.
“There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island.” – Walt Disney
#1. With the digital age book are getting lost.
Kids more and more these days are staring at an iPad or some tablet device. Sure they can be educational. My daughter even has one she watches and learns from. But most parents replace real books for tablets. They replace all types of learning with tablets (but that’s another post).
Example: Cursive got lost when hand writing came out. Now they don’t even teach cursive in schools anymore!! 🙁 It’ s sad that’s now a lost art! I would hate that to happen to book also!
#2. Be engaging.
Kids play off of adult reactions. If you are not into the books your kids won’t be. When My daughter was young I would put her in my lap and read an Old McDonald book. Every animal we saw I would make the sound and do I little hand motion that the animal does. She would giggle every time. When she got a little older I would ask her “where’s the cat? What sound does the cat make? What do they like to eat? What color is that cat?….” Books like Goodnight Moon and Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See? are two other awesome books to ask them questions and keep them engaged.
#3.Have a bookshelf they can get to all the time.
Don’t just put books away and only bring them out when YOU want to read. Even babies. Maybe don’t put paper books in babies reach until they understand how to treat books but definitely leave them out. If your baby still likes to put things in their mouth like mine soft and crinkly books are good for their sensory development. You want THEM to be able to flip through a book and get the feel for one when they want to. Here is a good bookshelf on sale even!
#4. Show them how to respect books.
If they see that you respect them they will see them differently than just toys. Line them nicely on the shelf, don’t throw them, don’t step on them, don’t leave them lying around, always put them back when finished. It is not only good practice at home but they will understand how to treat them when they go to the library or a friend’s house.
#5. Don’t get frustrated.
If they are done with the book, even if you only made it through half, stop and do something else then try coming back to it. Try to get through one extra page a week. Especially if you are reading to a baby. If they see you get frustrated or you force them to finish that will only cause them to hate reading even more. Maybe try reading a book like First 100 Words. It shows multiple pictures on each page and you can walk around your house with your baby and show them the real thing so they wont get board to fast by just reading.
#6. Get the child involved.
Even when I started reading to my oldest at 2 months I would stick my finger under the next page, tap at it and say “turn the page”. Then I took her hand and flipped the page. she started turning her own pages about 4 months old. Every time she did I praised her for it and she LOVED turning pages. I also found books like Pout Pout Fish which teaches emotion and I would try to imitate the facial features.
Ask them to pick a book they want you to read to them. It gives them the sense of control. And lets face it, after they hit the terrible twos all they want to do is control everything. By giving them little tasks like this that they can control they might be less likely to throw a fit wanting to control something else. Win-win.
#7. Encourage them
When your child gets older and starts “reading” on their own, encourage it. It is their little minds being creative. There is no wrong way to read a book. It is a process we all go through. The fact that they are picking up a book and trying to read is better than hating it all together. So sit with them and ask them to read YOU a story. It will make them feel important. Books like I Love You To The Moon And Back and Very Hungry Caterpillar are some of her favorites.
#8. Bring them to the library.
I feel this is something that HAS to be done. In our library we have story time where someone comes in and reads to all the kids. It gets them around other kids, it is free and it allows them to see others reading besides Mommy and Daddy. After it’s done let them pick their own story. Make it a big deal. Say “WOW! You did so well listening! Would you like to pick one out to take with us and we all can read it together?!” If you are excited they will be too.
#9. Don’t make excuses for your child.
I LOVE LOVE LOVE my parents but this is where they went wrong. I grew up saying I hated reading, I couldn’t get it, didn’t understand, couldn’t memorized the 20 words a week for my 4th grade assignment…ect. So they always said “she just a slow learner”, “she can’t do it”… I never finished a book until I was in 10th grade! Now I love reading! Don’t say, “my child doesn’t get it”. “They just hate reading”. If you continue to show them how important book are they will understand that sooner or later. Just keep working with them. Keep making it fun. Books like Giraffes Can’t Dance are fun silly books to keep them interested. Ask them questions about what they just read or why that book is their favorite…
#10. Early habits are the best
The earlier you start is obviously better. I feel it becomes a part of who they are when they grow up doing something. With that said though, don’t feel it’s to late and never try. Like I said in #9, I never finished a real book until I was in 10th grade! If you have a child, any age, then start reading to them and stay consistent. Now is better than never. Here is a great set for toddlers. This is how I taught my daughter her shapes, colors, ABCs and numbers. Plus she loves that she knows the characters.
Books are a treasure. A treasure that will soon be lost if we let the digital age replace paper. That is such a sad thought. Grab a book. Sit with your child and have fun reading together. Even if they don’t like reading they will do it because it is time with you. And when they ask for one more book (even if its past bedtime/ even if you are so tired) read it to them. One day, one day soon, they won’t ask you to read one more book because they won’t need you to.
“Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.” – Margaret Fuller
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