If you’ve read our blog post about Nurturing Wonder and Curiosity, you’ll know that finding ways to encourage children to read more is the first on the list of our 5 family beliefs. You might be wondering, “Why is this is numero uno on that list?” Well, mainly because as new parents, it was quickly obvious that babies couldn’t do much haha!
When Allie was born, we quickly realized that all we could do was to try to feed her growing mind with a sense of wonder and curiosity about the world around her. But how do you do this when she could barely communicate? I’ll admit that the first thing that came to mind was reading because selfishly, I love reading myself! Books are an escape to another world and I love how writers could skillfully and effortlessly describe anything with words and trigger emotions, imagination, and sometimes even sights and smells from our own memories. So here are 5 tips to get you started…
5 Tips to Encourage Your Children to Read More
- Create a ritual and breed a sense of familiarity, fun and comfort around it: Be diligent about the timing and what happens after. This will pay off because they will eventually know that bedtime comes right after reading and it gets them ready for sleep.We started reading to our oldest before bedtime, before she could even look at the book!
- Adapt your reading style with age and their responses: When we first started reading to our children, we would always read after her bedtime feeding, sat in our rocker and used gentle comforting tones. We would always end with some rhetorical questions because, of course, she couldn’t understand us LOL. Wasn’t that such a sweet story, baby? That garden was so enchanting, wasn’t it? Now it’s time for bed. Good night, sweet dreams, and we love you so much. As she got older, we would get a little more animated and would ask and encourage her to ask 3 questions after reading.
- Don’t limit your selection based on their age, especially early on: Babies cannot understand you anyways so make sure you’re having fun, too! If you like poetry, go for it. Variety is key!
- Show them the pictures and point to the words: Sure, this might seem silly, especially in the early ages. However, this does help direct their focus and simply the act of following your finger familiarizes them with the concept of how someone reads. This supports two early reading behaviors, namely directional movement and voice-print match.
- As they get older, remember NOT to use “Go read a book!” as a form of punishment: This tells them that reading is not something anyone wants to do and is associated with something negative. In fact, we did the reverse. Books were a gift, a treasure to both them and us so it would be something they would earn for good behavior or as gifts!
Benefits of Reading With Your Children
There are so many benefits to introducing and instilling a love for reading early on. According to zerotothree.org, “Beginning early is important because the roots of language are developing in a baby’s brain even before he can talk! The more words your baby hears over time, the more words he learns.”
We definitely can attest to the positive effects that come when you encourage children to read more! For starters, both our girls starting speaking full sentences by age two and could communicate with enough clarity what they wanted or needed. As a result, they were actually much calmer babies with rare tantrums! BONUS! Right?
Reading Around the World (Literally) at Libreria Acqua Alta
My favorite part of all of this (which I didn’t realize until much later) is that reading was their first introduction to travel and adventure. This was why reading and dreaming about visiting the libraries and bookstores around the world became a thing they wanted to experience. In Venice, we visited Libreria Acqua Alta which was a “must-do” the minute they knew we would be in Venice! “Mommy! We HAVE to go! It’s sinking! It might not exist one day!”
So… off we went! Come along with us will ya?
Mirfie & the Chan Fam