We all want our child to be a great reader. And there is no better time to start than now when we are indoors with our kids during the holidays. We also have a captive audience during the long winter days when it is harder to get outside and there are less outdoor activities.
Show Your Kids That You Are A Reader
Make the effort to show your kids how important reading is. The most important thing that you can do to make your child a better reader is to model your love of reading. You are the most important influence in your child’s life. No matter how many times your child’s teacher talks about the importance of reading, it cannot compare to what your child sees you doing. When your child sees you reading and sees your enthusiasm for reading, he will follow suit.
Talk to your spouse about the books that you are reading and share your thoughts with your kids. If the book is hard for a child to understand or inappropriate, you can still share meaningful information with him or her. You can say something like, “I’m reading a book about technology and how it can be very helpful to the world and sometimes very dangerous.” Or you could say, “I’m reading a book about parents who don’t take care of their children properly”. In other words, you can talk to your kids about what you are reading by explaining the book in terms that he/she can understand.
Explain that reading helps you to become more familiar with subjects that you didn’t study when you were younger. You can also tell him/her that reading is helping you to become a better person or a more effective parent. There are so many ways to explain to your child how reading is beneficial to us on a daily basis.
Make Reading a Family Activity
There is no better way to encourage your child to be a great reader than by making reading a family activity. Have a bin of books in your living room and make a fixed period every day or at least on the weekends, when your family reads together. This can be done in two ways. Even small children can look at picture books while the older kids and parents read alone. Or even better if you can find a book that everyone is interested in, you can read to your kids.
Kids love being read to and you can make this an activity to look forward to for twenty minutes before bed. On the weekends when there is more time, you can read a book and discuss the book with your kids. Everyone can contribute and even read to each other. If you are too busy, older kids can read to younger kids. Some parents like to get their kids to bed and then read to them before they fall asleep.
When my youngest son was four and saw his siblings reading, he wanted to read too! He would literally pull me over to a chair with a book and beg me to teach him to read (which I did). Seeing his older siblings reading with interest made him want to participate in this family activity. He was an avid reader through his school years because his interest in reading had been sparked by his siblings.
Reading is Teaching
Not only can we teach our kids reading but we can transmit our values through the books that we give them. We can teach our kids to be industrious, not to waste time and to help others. Give them books that teach the values that you believe in. My book, “Every Kid Can Make a Difference” teachers the value of not being selfish and helping others in need. Here is a page from the book:
Here is another great book by an important educator, that talks about how to build good character traits. “What Do You Stand For?” not only teaches what good character is and what to strive for but can help parents verbalize and have discussions in a relaxed way about topics that they might otherwise find difficult to bring up.
This edition of the book “What do you stand for?” (for Teens) is written specifically for teens and presents common dilemmas in which teens might find themselves. Your adolescent becomes actively involved in real life situations and uses worksheets and activities to determine outcomes. The book helps to teach important character traits without lecturing. This is a wonderful book for teens, parents of teens, or teachers and counselors that work with teens.
Another book that helps children learn how to express themselves in a constructive way is “Start with Sorry”. By reading this book together with your children, a parent can ask them why the characters in the ebook reacted in a particular way. This again easily flows into important discussions that help children reflect on negative reactions. Children learn valuable life lessons and how to deal with powerful emotions.
And finally, another valuable life lesson story is the book “Have You Filled a Bucket Today?: A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids”. This book teaches kids children how to be bucket fillers (bringing happiness to others) as opposed to being bucket dippers (bullies). The premise is that children who learn to love and help others are happier than those that don’t.
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The Life-Long Reader
Take advantage of your local library as a means to instill a love of reading. A trip to the library can be a great outing for your family.
Especially when kids are out of school for long vacations, take advantage of all that libraries have to offer. Help your kids to find books on many different topics of interest as well as specific individual interests. Whether it’s a book about skiing adventures, making crafts or playing the piano, the library is a treasure chest of interesting books on many different topics. Your child will see that reading is a means of exploring and learning about the world around him/her.
The Reluctant Reader
If you have employed all of the above suggestions and your child still is reluctant to read, check in with your child’s teacher to see how he is doing in school. Sometimes children have visual processing issues that make it harder or extremely difficult for children to read. There are many different reasons that reading is unpleasant for a child, but many have an actual source that might need to be diagnosed.
If you suspect that your child’s reluctance to read has a deeper root, make sure that you see your doctor and have him/her refer your child to a competent professional.
If you feel that you would generally like your child to be more successful in school, check out my free video course below:
Aids to Reading
For the developing reader here are a few tips for helping kids to be better readers:
1) Check out audio books from the library and get a copy of the actual book. Help your child follow along and stop every once in a while and check for comprehension. Ask your child “Why did he leave then?, What did he really want to do? or “How was so and so feeling after that happened?” These type of questions will help you see if your child is really understanding what he is hearing or reading.
2) Play vocabulary matching games to broaden your child’s vocabulary. Here is a free worksheet generator, that makes matching worksheets for the vocabulary that your child needs to practice.
3) Use reading highlight strips to help your child keep his place while reading. This can be helpful to children that tend to lose their places easily. However if your child continues to complain that he can’t keep his/her place, don’t hesitate to see a professional.
Showing your children your own love of reading, making reading a family activity and continually supplying your kids with new and interesting books to read will go a long way to help him/her become a life-long reader. Continue to encourage your child and create discussions around books that you are reading. These small steps will go a long way to influence your child to become a great reader!
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