Did you know March is National Reading Month? As a self-professed bookworm, I love celebrating this month! March starts off with a celebration of Dr. Suess’ birthday (March 2) with programs designed to celebrate reading and literacy. The celebration continues all month long with programs and activities geared toward instilling a lifelong love of reading into children.
I, personally, want my kids to love reading as much as I do, so I have been excited from the get-go to get my kiddos involved with books! Here are some ways that I have discovered are the best ways you can inspire a love of books in your kids:
Surround Them With Books
Kids get excited to read when they have the opportunity to practice it, even if it’s just pretend reading. Fill your child’s bookshelves with books from the start; make books a part of their every day life. If they have regular access to books, they will reach for them more often than you think.
Begin Reading to Them at an Early Age
Studies have shown that children who are read to at least a few times a week are nearly twice as likely to score in the top 25% in reading compared to children who were read to less often. Unfortunately, only about half of children aged 3-5 years old are read to on a daily basis. Start reading to your children as early as possible! I started reading to my children every night by the time they were three months old. Some days we didn’t make it past the first page, other days we read three books in a row. Keep at it! Just the act of reading to them, even if it doesn’t seem like they’re interested, is doing positive things in their baby brains.
Be an Example
Show them how to love reading by doing it yourself! Make an effort to sit down with a book or a magazine or a newspaper on a regular basis and encourage your kids to read when you do. If you lead by example, they will follow you and make reading a regular part of their routine as well.
Visit the Library Often
Take them to the library and show them how they can check out books and return them when they’re finished. Read to them while you are there. Sign up for the programs that most librarys offer for toddlers and young kids. I remember going to the library with my mom on a weekly basis when I was a kid and it was the highlight of my week. Give your kids the opportunity to pick out the books that appeal to them and you will be amazed at how much fun a library can be for them!
Don’t Push Independent Reading
If you push learning to read too soon, you could make the act of reading a chore instead of a pleasure. Be careful not to force your four-year-old to learn sight words or start reading simple books if she’s not ready. Talk with a pre-school teacher about reading readiness in your child and tread carefully. The last thing you want to do is make your kid resent reading because she isn’t ready for it.
Establish a Daily Reading Time
Making reading a part of your regular routine makes a huge impact on a child, as discussed above. For us, we read to our children every night before bed. It helps our kids to wind down and prepares them for a restful sleep. It is so much an important part of their routine that they know without us asking to go pick out one or two books after they put on jammies and brush teeth. They love reading time and so do we!
Limit Screen Time
This is kind of a no-brainer but when you limit screen time, you encourage reading by default. Kids without access to a TV or video games or iPads will automatically look for other ways to engage their minds, and reading will be one of the first things they turn to, especially if you’ve followed all of the tips listed above. As our kids get older, I plan to limit screen time and encourage reading as much as possible, even going to far as to get them to “earn” their screen time by reading more books! I’m sure it won’t be easy, but this is one mama who wants her kids to do more reading than t.v. watching and I’m going to do everything in my power to make it happen!
Following these simple tips can help you create a happy reader in no time! Start them young, be a good example and get involved with them to encourage a lifelong love of reading. It doesn’t really take much when you think about it, but the rewards are so great!
What are some ways you encourage a love of reading in your child?