Developing those little brains early on will be one of your most important tasks, and reading is the gateway to accomplish just that.
According to the Children’s Reading Foundation, reading helps children concentrate, listen and learn. The benefits of reading to your child, and encouraging them to read are numerous.
Reading a story over and over again will not only result in a tighter bond between you and your child, but also give your child a kick-start in life. The more you read to them now, the bigger the rewards you and they will reap for the rest of their lives.
But kids shouldn’t just be able to read, they should love to read. Here are a few tips to help you encourage your child:
Start early, even as early as the first three months of their lives. Even though your newborn baby cannot understand a word you are saying, it might seem silly that you are curled up in the rocking chair in the nursery each night, reading a story out loud. But your baby will get accustomed to your voice and it can be very soothing to him or her. Plus, it will get you into the habit of reading to your children on a daily basis.
Dramatise: Nothing beats over-dramatised facial expressions and different voices for different characters. Don’t be afraid to look and sound like a fool – every bit of drama will ignite their imagination and possibly cause shrieks of laughter time after time.
Let them see you love books. Read, read and read – and then share the stories you’ve read. You cannot expect your child to love reading when you do not set the example. Make a cosy reading corner where any member of your family can snuggle up and read.
Reward them with books or reading, not food. Give your children the promise of a reading experience to reinforce good behaviour. This will be a double win for them and you.
Display books everywhere. Put a small bookshelf in your child’s room with a step so they can easily reach every single book. Keep books on your bedside table, the coffee table and study – everywhere in plain sight. This will help your children be comfortable around books and will most likely set a trend for the rest of their lives.
Know what interests them and feed that interest. It will do you and your child no good when you try and force your taste in books on them. They will need guidance though, so carefully examine what they like – be it trains, horses, etc – and then provide them with fictional versions of just that.
Set out time for reading. Make this a special time. Set the mood – put on the lamp, make hot chocolate, snuggle in bed, and read together. This will help you bond, and evoke positive emotions whenever they are reading for the rest of their lives. Try not to fight during this time, as fighting and anger can damage their positive connotations to books.