Parents often wonder and worry about how to encourage children to read and how to raise a child to love literature. How can you inspire your preschooler, school-aged child, or teen to love the written word?
It begins with adult modeling, sharing literature at all stages of your child’s life, and consistently providing books and magazines in your home. Show your child your genuine enjoyment of books, magazines, newspapers, and all things written!
Let’s start with the youngest children: toddlers and preschoolers.
Flood your home with books. You can buy them, ask for them as gifts from grandparents or relatives, or make regular trips to your local library.
Read these books often and try to respond with genuine enthusiasm when your toddler asks you to read the same book over and over, a positive step, as this leads to predictability, comfort, and a true mastery of the story sequence.
Start early with magazine subscriptions: The Babybug (6 months to 3 years) magazine is a great place to start and Hello magazine (0 to 2 years) from the makers of Highlights is for infants and toddlers as well.
Be sure that books are available for them to explore as readily as other toys and set out on low shelves. Children will be more inclined to choose books and magazines when they are as available and attractive as other toys and activities.
One of the best traditions is to start purchasing a quality hardback book for your child at every milestone, birthday, and winter holiday. Write an inscription in these books with a date and message so that they are notably special.
These are the books that will be read over and over again and loved thoroughly.
As children move into their preschool years, they are ready for different types of literature. Young children love stories that show others like themselves and that talk about their world. These books help preschoolers to feel secure and comfortable in the world they see.
But literature can also help preschoolers enter worlds slightly bigger and more divergent from their own. The stories should be getting a bit longer (and the subject matter more varied) as your child matures and is ready to explore.
I recommend looking for literature that embraces subjects that your child is interested in now, but also look for books that stretch your child’s imagination to discover new worlds and new experiences. There are many lists of appropriate Adult/child book clubs have sprung up in many towns. They encourage the experience and love of shared reading. preschool books online.
School-aged children enjoy not only singlesitting books but also chapter books and book series.
I suggest you continue to read aloud to your child at bedtime, even as your child becomes a more proficient reader. Reading aloud not only lets your children hear the cadence and speed of proficient reading, it lets them share a book with you and have the opportunity to discuss the happenings in the book as well. This can allow you to explore sensitive subject matter together, as well as a great story.
Adult/child book clubs have sprung up in many towns. They encourage the experience and love of shared reading.
In my view, it is best to continue the tradition of giving your child a carefully chosen hardcover book as a gift. It is so important for your child to build his or her own personal library with books they will read over and over for years.
Regular trips to the library remain important, although your child will naturally become more independent in selecting books during these years. By watching what is selected, you will get to know your child’s interests better, offering you ways to initiate conversation or other book suggestions. This is also a time to think back on the books or book series that were special to you and suggest them as well.
By the teen years, encourage your young adult to enjoy literature in whatever form brings enjoyment: graphic novels, books, magazine articles. Online and audiobooks can engage one in an interesting story. Non-fiction books about cooking, automobile repair, or outdoor sports also resonate with many teens.
As a parent, I believe our job is to encourage the exploration of any subject that can enhance interest in reading.
Teens also enjoy reading about themselves and their real-life challenges, so many will gravitate toward content that explores these issues.
As a teen, they are probably reading content online, and it may be harder to ascertain their area of interest. You might want to introduce them to others who read online, so they can have discussions there.
Goodreads.com lets kids discuss what they are reading with others, which can often be more interesting to do than discussing them with parents. There are even many chatbased story platforms like Hooked or Wattpad’s Tap app, that combine reading and storytelling for teens.
A continued family discussion about this topic is still important.
Modeling reading for your teens and talking about what you are reading is also very important. This can stimulate conversation with your teen that can lead to hearing them express their own views on topics.
Teens will read books as part of their classes in school and, if you have not read them, you might want to read the books to give you another basis for discussion.
Here are a few more suggestions:
• Continue to reach into your own memory and recommend books that were your favorites.
• Many young adult books (YA) span age groups and can be read and enjoyed by both parents and teens.
• Don’t be afraid to leave books and magazines around your home in enticing places for your teen to pick up!
• Books that are written as a series can be a good way to encourage a teen to keep on reading.
• After your teen has seen a movie, find the book that it was based upon and bring it home. Discuss whether the movie or the book was better.
As with all things “teen,” make every effort to keep the lines of communication open. Your local library may offer classes or programs for teens that can get them inside the library to explore an interest and, at the same, time renew their awareness of what is offered in the library.
Be aware that school requires a significant amount of required reading, which can limit the time that they can spend on recreational reading during the school year. Teens may read more for pleasure during school vacation breaks or in the summer when they may have more free time.
Reading can be encouraged as an enjoyable individual and family experience when it is modeled by parents, shared within families, and openly enjoyed. •
The Babybug magazine: shop.cricketmedia. com/babybug-magazine-special-offer.html
Hello magazine: shop.highlights.com/hello-magazine.html
Cathie Perolman is a reading specialist, elementary educator, author, consultant, and creator of educational materials for primary and elementary students. Check out her new downloadable materials on her website: cathieperolman.com.
For more than three decades, she has dedicated her energies to improving reading for all youngsters. She is the author of Practical Special Needs for the Montessori Method: A Handbook for 3-6 Teachers and Homeschoolers published by the Montessori Foundation (available through montessori. org.) She is a regular contributor to Tomorrow’s Child and Montessori Leadership magazines.
Cathie Perolman holds a BS in Early Childhood Education and a MEd in Elementary Education with a concentration in reading. She is credentialed as a Montessori teacher. She is married and has two adult children and two adorable granddaughters. Cathie lives in Ellicott City, Maryland with her husband.