Reading is a fundamental skill that greatly influences a child’s development as they grow up. Like every other basic human skill, reading normally starts early in childhood. However, not all children who learn how to read also learn how to love it. Sometimes, you have to do your part to foster that love of reading in your child, even before entering formal school.
A child who loves to read is more likely to learn faster, helping them succeed academically throughout their school years. Moreover, a love for reading stimulates the imagination, encouraging creativity in a child’s mind and developing their curiosity about the world as they get to discover more of it.
A love of reading can come naturally to children, but it will be much better if you help them foster it. Here are the best ways you can do so:
1. Build a home library
Children will be much more inclined to read if they are exposed to books at home. Buy age-appropriate children’s books and start building your home library, ideally as soon as your child can sit up on their own and hold small picture books in their hands. Even if they technically don’t know how to read yet, being exposed to pictures and letters can help develop their pre-literacy skills.
2. Read to your child
Babies can already recognize speech when they are still inside the womb, so you can start reading your child as early as the third trimester wherein they can start hearing sounds from the outside world. When you read to your baby, it encourages them to copy sounds and recognize patterns of speech. It’s also one of the best ways to help your child learn your native language. And as your baby grows, reading to them can support social and emotional development as they hear different emotions and sounds from your stories.
Aside from these developmental benefits, reading to your child shows them that it is important, and it is fun. In this way, they will associate reading and books with positive emotions, including love, closeness, and happiness that they have experienced while reading with you.
3. Be a good role model
Children often copy what their parents do, which means that if you spend all your time staring at your phone or plopped down in front of the TV, they will want to do the same as well. But if your child sees you reading, the more inclined they will be to pick up a book, too.
4. Pay attention to your child’s interests
Don’t be too focused on educational books and the ABCs and number books. Your child will get to those at some point. Sometimes, you can just read books about what your child loves. Besides making reading a fun activity, doing this will help develop their love for books since they associate it with something they enjoy.
5. Pack a book everywhere
Children should know that reading can be done at any time, anywhere. They don’t have to be curled up in a reading nook or settled underneath the covers to enjoy a good book. Encourage them to read anywhere they want to. Pack a book in their backpack for those long car rides or lengthy waits at the doctor’s office. Have them pick up a book at the library to read during breaks. Doing this can encourage a lifelong love for reading, which can be extremely beneficial for your child’s mental and emotional development.
6. Encourage writing
Reading, talking, and writing are fundamental skills that preschoolers need to learn at this early age. So aside from reading stories, it’s also highly beneficial for a child’s development to write stories.
Writing develops a child’s ability to form ideas, construct sentences, and recognize symbolism. Ensure that your child has access to writing tools so that they can create their own stories anytime they want. And when they show you their work, be encouraging and appreciative; it will make them even more motivated to read and write.
7. Make reading fun
Making reading fun is one of the best ways to foster a love for reading in your child. There are lots of ways you can achieve this, such as:
- Using funny voices and expressions while reading
- Acting out stories using puppet shows or plays
- Reading to a pet or stuffed animal
- Reading an interactive book or e-book
- Offering small rewards for finishing books
With these tips, you can help your child create a love of reading for life. This makes it easier for them to succeed in academics, express their creativity, and develop mental, emotional, and social skills. As they grow up, your child’s love of reading will also help them manage stress and keep their brain healthy.