Developing reading skills is a vital part of any child’s learning, and one which can have long lasting effects. A life-long love of reading is associated with a love of learning, creativity, and imagination. Learning how to improve reading habits helps parents ensure that their children experience the special joy of getting lost in a good book.
Make Reading Fun
If we were told we could only give one answer to the question “how to improve reading habits,” we’d have to say make reading fun. Use funny voices for each character in the book. Act out little plays based on the story with puppets and toys. Read with as much enthusiasm and emotion as possible. It doesn’t matter if you’re overacting—it’s fun for both your child and you.
Choose books that reinforce how much fun reading is, even at very young ages. Kids especially love hearing their names in stories. Books such as My Very Own Name capitalize on this love, making the child a part of her own special story.
Set a Regular Routine
Between friends, televisions, school, and family activities, it’s easy for children to forget to read. Starting at an early age, set aside a regular time for reading. For many kids, this is bedtime, when the soothing sound of a parent reading brings the day to a close. The exact time doesn’t matter, but it needs to be consistent so that children associate that time as book time.
Always Have Books Handy
While a regular reading schedule is an important part of instilling good reading habits in a child, don’t limit their reading to one time of day. Try to make sure books will always be available to kids, whether they’re lounging on the sofa at home or on a long car ride. Set “book traps” by leaving new books around the house. If a child loves reading, sooner or later he or she will take the bait.
Hunt Used Book Stores
A used bookstore is a treasure trove for any reader and has a charm big-box bookstores lack. If you’ve got a used bookstore in your area, browsing the aisles looking for that perfect book is a great way to keep kids interested in reading. It’s economical too—for the same price as a new kid’s book you can often walk out with three or four books.
Have a Library Day
Introduce your child to the library early to help build good reading habits. Not only can your young reader access hundreds of books at the library, he can also get involved with summer reading programs, library Storytime, and other activities designed to inspire a love of the written word.
Reading and Life
Reading isn’t just for books. It’s is a vital part of everyday life, whether we’re following a recipe, navigating through town, comparing the features of two different phone brands, or looking up an address in the phone book.
Show kids how useful reading is in everyday life at every opportunity. Ask them to use their reading skills to find items at the grocery store, or look for the turnoff sign to grandma’s house. Teachable reading moments come up all the time—all you have to do is watch for them.