Tips to Help Your Child Love to Read

Reading to your child from infancy to preteens is a wonderful way to bond with your child and interest him/her in reading. Cuddling up in a cozy chair, couch or bed and immersing yourself and your child in the world of imagination is the best way to encourage your child to read; make reading with your child part of your daily routine. A story or chapter (or three) at bedtime is the easiest way to incorporate reading into your day.

Reading with children is critical to their intellectual development. A good book will expand a child’s vocabulary. It will encourage a child’s imagination and creativity. It will expand a child’s horizons.

Visit bookstores and libraries to ensure children encounter people who love to read. This encourages modelling: a general process in which children will imitate the behaviour of those around them. And make sure you come out of the bookstore or library with a book.

Teach infants the basics with board books: the alphabet, colors, numbers and the names of everything they encounter in their daily life. Then get into more wordy picture books that encourage imagination, humor, creative thinking and the development of logic, judgement, manners, etc. Eventually dive into chapter books that will immerse children in the lives of others: imaginary or real: past, present or future; animal or human.

Book ownership is critical to instilling a love of reading in your child. There is pride in ownership and children get great pleasure in going to their own private library and taking one of their books off the shelf to read.

Studies have shown that children who own books have a greater love of reading, do better in school and go farther in their education than children who don’t. Further education raises the odds of obtaining a good job.

The article Research suggests book ownership is key in children’s educational success ( Literacy News) states the study published by National Literacy Trust research in June 2, 2010 found the vast majority of children who read above their expected reading level had books of their own. The report also found that children who did not own their own books were twice as likely to perceive reading in a negative light. (Google: Young People’s Reading: The Importance of the home environment and family support for the full study.)

The article also states that children who own as little as 20 books attained a higher level of education and the more books the children owned the more they benefited.

In the study “Patterns of book ownership and reading to young children in Israeli school-oriented and nonschool-oriented families” by Dina Feitelson and Zahava Goldstein,(published in The Reading Teacher, May 1986) “kindergartners in schools where children tend to succeed were compared to kindergartners in schools where children tend not to succeed.  Children in the succeeding schools owned far more books and were read to at home far more often
than were children in less successful school environments.”

When I talk about owning books, by the way, I’m talking about tangible books, not e-books. (It would be interesting to have a study showing the difference between children owning e-books and children owning paper books.) There is something special about holding a book in your hands and turning the pages. Even more magical is seeing your books, lined up on shelves in your room, titles in front of you, ready for you to pluck off the shelf and read.  To my mind, children need to see their books in front of them to entice them to read. The studies above refer to physical books.