5 Ways to Foster Healthy Reading Habits
Do you have to beg your child to sit down and read? Or do you just want to install some healthy reading about that they will benefit from for the rest of their life?
It’s hard to know how to react when your child hates reading, and even harder to figure out how to motivate children to read. Try these 5 simple steps to help foster healthy reading habits in your home:
1. Before you do anything, take a step back and examine what interests, excites or intrigues your child. Knowing what interests your child can help you pinpoint what types of reading your child may enjoy. If we ‘force’ them to read books that they find boring then we are really wasting out time, but if they were to read topics that appeal to them your task will be much easier.
2. Allow creativity and freedom: reading is more than ‘just’ books. If you find that reading books has become a NO word in your house then go for alternatives: magazines, newspapers, recipes, cartoons with images and text to just name a few. Lego magazines were a favourite for my sons and my daughter loved princess booklets. Today my 14 year old reads through fishing magazines, newspapers etc. and really enjoys them but still won’t read books; nevertheless, he still managed to get Bs and As in his GCSE and A level English! So when you go shopping have a look at the shelf with magazines, anything that would interest your child there? Even better, let your child choose one. WH Smith has endless choice when it comes to magazines. Bookshops and libraries offer so much choice of topics for your child to enjoy reading – if they have chosen the book their are more likely to read it and enjoy it. Second hand shops often have great children’s book for little money.
3. Make it Fun: have fun playing I-Spy with everything you can read when you are out and about, house, street and shop names, advertising, street signs and food labels are all examples of environmental print. ‘I spy something starting with M’. This way your child will see that it is of benefit to read and that there is a ‘reason’ that they have to learn to read so they can read road signs, shop names, labels of food etc.
4. Word Environment: create a reading environment at home. Have books, magazines, newspaper, cartoons, cereal boxes available to read at the table, in the car, bathroom, anywhere! If your child is exposed to reading materials then he/she is more likely to pick it up and read it. They will see it as normal, part of their everyday life and not a ‘ohh no moment’. I have cartoons with images and text on them on our breakfast table and they always pick them up and ‘flick’ through them. As they got older I had newspaper and again they always picked them up and read them.
5. Be a role model: try to show how you enjoy reading. As an alternative to being on the phone or watching television, sit and read. Read together every night, your child is never too old to share a book with you; let them choose the book, sit close together, let your child hold the book, point at the words or images, afterwards take your time to talk about the book. Why not try a Family Book Club, where you take turns reading the books (or magazines) that a particular family member likes. Yes, you might have to read ‘Judy Moody’, I have read many Lego magazines when my kids were small! After you have read the book(s), talk about them and each give an opinion. Make sure your listen and value their contributions.