5 Ways to Encourage Your Children to Read

5 Ways to Encourage Your Children to Read
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Barbara Danza

Nothing is more fundamental to your child’s education than learning to read. It’s a skill that many children struggle with and still many more regress in during the summer months.

Schools and libraries attempt to incentivize reading, offering prizes for reading checklists, and so on. These programs may motivate some in the short term, but they do little to encourage a lifelong love of reading.

If you wish to help your child become a capable and even enthusiastic reader, here are my tips.

(Full disclosure: I am the furthest thing from an expert. I hold no educational degrees or professional educational experience. I’m simply a mom of two voracious readers.)

Deep Breaths, Let’s Slow This Train

If your child is “falling behind” in school, is “below grade level” on reading assessments, or has been labeled in any discouraging way, toss all of that aside.

Ignore reading levels completely and shift your family’s focus to enjoying books of all sorts and levels together.

Allow a struggling child to whiz through way “below level” books they enjoy. Read to them the books that are presently a challenge to read. Focus on the content of the stories, the silliness, the wonder, the various worlds that these books transport them to.

Your goal isn’t to maintain or improve their reading level but to instill a love of reading.

Surround Them With Interesting Books

This may sound like a no-brainer, but curiosity is a powerful driver and nothing could be more natural than a child’s curiosity.
What are your children actually interested in? Sports? Art? Animals? Jokes? Astronomy? Whatever lights them up, there are very likely books available on the subject. Get really resourceful and watch curiosity work its magic.

Make a Night Out of the Bookstore or Library

Regularly hang out as a family at the library or local bookstore. Let the kids explore to their heart’s content. Associate family fun with reading.

Let Go of Your Worries

Reading skills seem to vary quite widely, with some children grasping basic skills early and some taking into the preteen years to develop reading confidence.

As parents, our stress over how our children compare to their peers doesn’t do much to reinforce the joy of reading.

Never mind any of that. Just look for the next great book.

Get Back to Basics

As you read with your children more and more, any fundamentals they are struggling with will begin to reveal themselves. Help them to understand as you go along. The one-on-one guidance you can give them in the comfort of their home far surpasses the limited attention received in a classroom.

Simply by celebrating books, filling your home with books, reading books together as much as possible, and by selecting books that your children have an interest in, you'll change the conversation around reading, remove the stress of “levels” from the conversation, and allow their aptitude to naturally increase.

Barbara Danza is a contributing editor covering family and lifestyle topics. Her articles focus on homeschooling, family travel, entrepreneurship, and personal development. She contributes children’s book reviews to the weekly booklist and is the editor of “Just For Kids,” the newspaper’s print-only page for children. Her website is BarbaraDanza.com
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