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How to Help Your Child Enjoy Reading

Updated on February 10, 2017
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I'm a dad a husband & a Christian first. The rest is just life's add ons - an educator, administrator, learning & development professional

Why do some children enjoy reading while others don't?
Why do some children enjoy reading while others don't? | Source

Growing up, my dad took out one encyclopedia from our library and made us read a page or two each night. Although this was a habit that strengthened our reading skills, it was never fun for me. Oh, by the way, did I mention I was six years old trying to read material for high school/college students? I did not even understand half of what I read. Plus, the words I managed to barely pronounce, after a gut-wrenching effort, did not mean anything to me. Suffice to say, this was not how you make children enjoy reading. So, how do you help children enjoy reading?

Start Early To Help Your Child Enjoy Literature

If you want your child to enjoy reading, you have to start early. You might be surprised to know that there are pre-reading skills that your child has to have before they can actually read. Reading is not something you automatically do when you see printed words. As such, preparing your child for reading is a logical step to make your child enjoy reading.

  • Focusing – being able to maintain one's attention even for a short period of time is needed.
  • Left to right eye movement - in most cases, left to right is the direction of how people read. Of course other languages may have a different direction.
  • Vocalization of sounds - although reading is usually done with the eyes, children can appreciate words and reading as a whole better when they can associate the visual cues with their sounds.
  • Recognizing symbols – association of printed images with concepts. Reading is practically associating symbols with its meaning. Children need to understand that every symbol or groups of symbols represent a particular thought.

Suggested activities to improve pre-reading skills in young children

Infants:

  • Stimulate the child’s sight by presenting different toys and materials
  • Talk to the child for better recognition of words, phrases and sentences

Toddlers:

  • Show toddlers books and read to them
  • Point to words and say the word clearly

Many might raise their eyebrows if they are told to start early when it comes to reading acquisition. However, it is essential to understand that children need to acquire pre-reading skills in order to start reading and eventually enjoy it. These rudimentary skills and behaviors are necessary to start a life long love for reading.

Reading to your child is a great way for your kid to enjoy reading
Reading to your child is a great way for your kid to enjoy reading | Source

Children Enjoy Reading When You Read to Them

Reading to children at an early age can facilitate in making them read earlier and more importantly enjoy reading.

Reading early to children has numerous benefits. First, familiarity with the sounds especially the spoken language can reinforce their language development. Second, the visual cues associated with reading like the books, the pictures, and the written word help make reading a tangible and concrete experience. Third, reading to children creates a bond that is safe and secure for the child. This association of comfort and safety and reading can strengthen their love for reading.

Here are some reminders when reading to your child:

  • Pronounce the words clearly
  • Read slowly
  • Point to the words as you read them
  • Encourage your child to sound out words or even read as you read to them
  • Let your child repeat words after you say them
  • Change your voice, tone and speed to make it more engaging and exciting
  • Ask questions about the story
  • Talk about the story after you have read to your child

Reading to your child is a wonderful bonding moment. More than just the act of reading the cuddling (or at least the proximity) while reading, the interactions you make and the new discoveries through the books, it is the bond that is reinforced that makes this activity really special.

The Appropriate Books will Help Children Enjoy Reading

The right book will whet your child’s appetite to read more. Unless your preschooler likes solving differential equations or enjoys complex novels skipping on higher math or War and Peace is reasonable. Instead look for materials that are appropriate for his/her age. However, parents may have a vague idea on what is child appropriate for them. So here are some pointers when looking for appropriate books for kids:

  • Check the words used in the book – The words used in the book should be simple – using big instead of gargantuan, sad instead of morose or something similar.
  • Sentence structure – simple sentences like 3 or 4 word sentences using a simple subject and a simple predicate is ideal.
  • There should be pictures – depending on the age of your child, the book may predominantly be pictures. However, for older kids, there can be more sentences per page. In addition, the images should clearly illustrate the story.

Choosing the right material can increase your child’s interest in books. So find out what your child likes and provide him/her with the appropriate books. Start with what your child likes then slowly introduce other topics. This way, her interests can also expand.

oListParagraphCxSpMiddle style='text-indent:-.25in;mso-list:l0 level1 lfo1'>· Let your child repeat words after you say them

  • Change your voice, tone and speed to make it more engaging and exciting
  • Ask questions about the story
  • Talk about the story after you have read to your child

Reading to your child is a wonderful bonding moment. More than just the act of reading the cuddling (or at least the proximity) while reading, the interactions you make and the new discoveries through the books, it is the bond that is reinforced that makes this activity really special.

Do you have a reading time with your child?

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Make Reading a Habit

Forcing your child to read is never a good strategy. Rather, let your child get into the habit of reading. Perhaps a book or two a day then increase the number. However, to get to the point where you child is the one asking for books to read may take some time. One of the best ways to reach this stage is to make reading a habit.

  • Reading bedtime stories is a good start
  • Turn reading into a game – find me the work/letter
  • Go to book stores and look for interesting books – let your child pick out books he/she likes
  • Set a reading time with your child

Reading as a habit is better started early in life. My wife and I read to my daughter even before when was old enough to say the words. But we did this constantly and it became a routine in our family. Now, she is the one who insists in having a reading time. And at night, we finish 3 or for books before going to bed. This includes reading a portion of the bible every night. We are already at the Acts of the Apostles. By the way, my daughter is just 5 and her vocabulary is amazing. Her appreciation for reading is beyond our expectations. She finishes books faster than the rate we by her new ones. We owe this amazing feat to forming reading habits early on in her life.

Let your child repeat words after you say them:

  • Change your voice, tone and speed to make it more engaging and exciting
  • Ask questions about the story
  • Talk about the story after you have read to your child

Reading to your child is a wonderful bonding moment. More than just the act of reading the cuddling (or at least the proximity) while reading, the interactions you make and the new discoveries through the books, it is the bond that is reinforced that makes this activity really special.

Reading is an important skill to have. However, not all children have the capacity to enjoy it. I for one, got into the habit later than my daughter – probably because I was forced to read the encyclopedia rather than child-appropriate books. But the fact remains that children should have a deeper appreciation for reading. And parents need to learn how to make their child enjoy reading in order to help them. Kids love to have fun. This is how they explore the world around them. By making reading fun, it can become part of their routine and eventually find themselves enjoying and loving books more. However, one essential ingredient in making children enjoy reading is you! You have to make an effort so that your child will start enjoying books and appreciate reading even more.

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    • Karen Hellier profile image

      Karen Hellier 2 months ago from Georgia

      When my children were little I always read to them every night before bed. We all looked forward to this time of snuggling and reading together. I read to my children through the 6th grade, even though they could read on their own I chose chapter books and read 1 0r 2 chapters to my twin girls before they went to bed each night. They shared a room and I chose classic books they wouldn't necessarily choose to read on their own. Nice hub with some great ideas.

    • jpcmc profile image
      Author

      JP Carlos 2 months ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Hi there Karen, It's nice of you to share your own experiences with your kids. Reading to your children can really create wonderful memories. The bonding moments are priceless. Thanks for the kind words about the hub and continue making awesome memories with your children.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 2 months ago from The Caribbean

      JP, I'm a grandmother who can make very good use of these suggestions you make to help children (grandchildren) enjoy reading. Thank you very much.

    • jpcmc profile image
      Author

      JP Carlos 2 months ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Hello there Dora Isaac Weithers,

      I am glad you came across this article of mine. I do hope you have a great time with your grandchildren. Reading together is a time well- spent with our family.

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