11 Fun and Easy Tips to Help Your Kids Read!
How do you instill a love of reading in your kids?
Readers know: immersing yourself in a good book can be a joyful, powerful, even life-changing experience. This week is National Young Readers Week, so hibooks is sharing tips to help even the most reluctant readers learn what it feels like to become engrossed in a magnificent story.
1. Understand Your Child’s Hesitation
Kids who are motivated to read can quietly entertain themselves for hours, which in turn helps them to become more skillful readers and stronger learners in general. But not all kids are motivated to read. If reading is hard work for your child, for example,; because of gaps in vocabulary or phonogram knowledge, it makes sense that they don’t gravitate towards reading as a leisure activity. If you can identify areas of weakness and work on them together, your child will come to enjoy reading as it becomes less of a struggle. While we’re on the subject, check out some of these apps to help kids read.
For other kids, reading isn’t so difficult, but it’s also not fun… yet. If you’ve ever heard your child say “Reading is boring!” (the horror!), give them the option to choose books they’re naturally drawn to. If they love dinosaurs, by all means, explore the exhaustive dino repertoire! If your child’s class is obsessed with Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney — and who isn’t? — get in on the hype! Furthermore, limiting television and video games will help here, too. If your little one is used to consuming stories by screen-to-brain osmosis, making the effort to read can initially be a drag. Once they figure out how to activate their imaginations, though, they’ll be hooked.
2. Assemble a Cozy Reading Nook
If you, like the hibooks team, are hygge-fying your own reading nook in preparation for hibernation season, pick a comfy reading corner for your kids, too! Everyone loves a pillow fort: bonus points if you and your child pick a literary design theme. Why not start by reading Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst? You can call your reading corner ‘Australia’! Or let your child create a little cocoon a la Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Let their imagination run wild!
3. Set Aside ‘Read Aloud’ Time
Even older kids appreciate being read to. What’s more, when you read aloud, you can explore higher-level reading material because kids’ listening comprehension level is higher than their independent reading ability. On that note…
4. While You’re at It, Try Audiobooks
Okay, maybe we’re a little biased in thinking that audiobooks are the best literary development since the printing press… but we’re not alone! Studies show that audiobooks can actually help children learn to read by allowing them to hear the sounds of letter patterns that create words. Audiobooks also provide exposure to more words, which improves vocabulary, critical thinking, and comprehension ability in young readers. Beyond these benefits, audiobooks are especially helpful for kids who struggle with sounding out words and decoding letter-sound relationships. When so much attention is spent on the logistics of reading, it becomes difficult to actually engage with and retain a storyline. In this way, audiobooks open up a whole new world of reading comprehension for reluctant readers. And if you need some audiobook recommendations, we’ve most certainly got them.
5. Set Aside Time for Reading
If reading is squeezed in between soccer practice and piano lessons, it can start to feel like a chore. Devote the same time to reading at home that you would to any of your kid’s other extracurricular activities. In the long run, fostering your child’s love of reading will probably serve them more than, say, ribbon dancing lessons, anyway. (No offense to the ribbon dancers among you.)
6. Make Sure The Reading Material Isn’t Beyond Your Kid’s Abilities
No one is questioning your little one’s obvious genius, but even the most precocious youngster probably won’t get much out of Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace. Take it from an author who brags to this day that I read all 449 pages of Louisa May Alcott’s ‘Little Women’ in second grade… I don’t remember anything. Don’t tell my former classmates that, though.
7. Consider Other Genres
In other words, look beyond fiction! I was hooked on essays and advice for kids by kids at a young age. Children’s’ magazines, graphic novels, biographies… even cookbooks and craft how-to guides… are all interesting ways to engage with reading while simultaneously nurturing other interests.
8. Try Buddy Reading
For budding readers, sounding out pages and pages of text can be daunting and even disheartening. ‘Buddy Reading’ or ‘Partner Reading’ is when you read a block of text, and then your kid reads a block of text. Not only does reading become less overwhelming with a buddy, you also get to spend some quality time with your reluctant reader this way.
9. Demonstrate Your Own Love of Reading
Even older kids who are embarrassed by literally everything you do and say are influenced by your habits. Love of literature is contagious, and if your kid sees (or hears!) you reading, odds are they’ll learn to love reading, too.
10. No Need to Be So Serious
Read something funny! Try Beverly Cleary’s Ramona the Brave (narrated by Stockard Channing!) to get your kid giggling. Read the first chapter aloud to your child, and if they want to keep the laughs going… they have to read the next chapter on their own!
11. Surround Your Kiddo with Books
Just as a kid is more likely to reach for healthy snacks if you stock your kitchen with carrot sticks instead of potato chips, providing your child with access to books will yield more time spent reading… instead of time spent playing video games, pulling a sibling’s hair, you name it. Create a home library. Let your kid pick a weekly audiobook. Make sure there’s always a book at your kid’s fingertips if they’re so inclined.
Need some vetted kid’s books to start out with? Check out our ‘Listening for Little Ears: Top Audiobooks for Children’, and dive into the worlds of Dr. Seuss and The Gruffalo. Or let your child pick an audiobook from Time Magazine’s ‘The 100 Best Children’s Books of All Time’. With some dedication and encouragement from you, your reluctant reader will be devouring books in no time.