Creating a reading habit can start as early as birth, some say even before that.
Among many other reasons hearing language from books, even muffled in utero, gives babies data to tune their ears to melodic patterns, words, and pitches. This accelerates the acquisition of native language and responsiveness to verbal rhyming stories.
A group of researchers who study literacy education, reading instruction, and educational psychology Anderson, R.C., Hiebert, E.H., Scott, J.A., & Wilkinson, I.A.G. in their collective article in the 80’s said “the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children”
For the love of reading
When I was young I discovered my love for reading through chapter books that were available to me at the time, books like Goosebumps, Sweetvally High and Bailey School Kids. As a parent, few things are more rewarding than seeing your child excited to read books. Reading unlocks new worlds for kids and feeds their imaginations. But with screens increasingly vying for attention, how can we instill a genuine love of reading early on?
Finding the Right Books to Support Your Child
Doctor Rudin Sims Bishop often referred to as the “mother of” multicultural children’s literature for her sociologically groundbreaking children’s literature research wrote an article in the 90’s – Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Doors here is a little insight into the article.
Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Doors
All books children read even for fun have a specific purpose.
Some books reflect children’s own identities and experiences back to them. For example, books with characters similar to them in terms of race, culture, gender, etc. This allows children to see themselves represented.
These types of books provide children with a view into the lives of people different from themselves. It exposes them to new perspectives, cultures, identities, etc. that they may not encounter in their daily lives.
Sliding Glass Doors
These types of books allow that child to go to another world, experience various other places, and open up opportunities for children to discover things they don’t know. It opens up children’s worldviews, understanding, aspirations etc.
Here are 5 tips to Help You
Start Early With Reading Aloud
Well before kids can read independently, read aloud together. Whether it’s nursery rhymes for infants or picture books for toddlers, reading together builds listening skills, parent-child bonding, and positive associations with books. Make it a cozy daily routine – something they look forward to.
Surround Them With Reading Materials
The key is access and variety – books should be everywhere! Rotate library selections bi-weekly, leave colorful stories in the playroom, have a basket of bath books ready, download ebooks for road trips. Variety prevents boredom so include fantasy, nature guides, joke books – whatever aligns with their developing interests.
Let Them Take the Lead
While guided suggestions are fine, allow plenty of autonomy for self-selected reading. Kids get more invested when they feel in the driver’s seat. Regular trips to the library or bookstore to pick their own materials – even if just looking at pictures initially – gives ownership.
Be A Role Model
Kids imitate parents. Let them catch you choosing reading for pleasure often – whether curled up with a novel each night or checking the news on a tablet. Discuss what you’ve read sometimes too. When kids see reading as a frequent activity done by the adults around them, it will stick!
Make It Fun
Don’t force reading if interest isn’t there you are only going to make it worse. Instead, play up the entertainment element – silly voices during read-aloud, regular comic time, reading props like puppets. Find apps that make stories interactive. Sprinkling in rewards like reading movie nights incentivizes too! The goal is to show reading as a consistent source of family fun versus obligation.
With consistency and imagination, instilling reading love is completely possible from tiny ages on up. Bonding over books from the start creates connections sure to last a lifetime!
What tips do you have on this journey with your young readers? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!