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Strategies To Encourage Your Child To Read !

Reading is one of the most crucial skills we need to equip our children with; not only it helps them academically but even prepares them to be lifelong learners. Reading benefits our children in multiple ways and here are few of them:
    1. Enhances language skills
    2. Builds vocabulary
    3. Develops comprehension skills
    4. Augments analytical skills
    5. Stimulates creativity
    6. Fosters independent reading

Getting your child onto her/his "Reading Journey"!

For you to get your child started with her/his reading journey, you need to ensure that "Reading" is not portrayed across as a mundane, mandatory & academic exercise. Instead it should be fun, pleasurable, relaxing and an activity which bonds you and your child together. 

The golden rule which I personally practiced with my daughter was, "I started Reading Aloud to her when she was born". I invested lot of time during her routine in "Read Aloud", which really helped me build her interest and liking towards reading. Further, when she grew up I ensured our trips to Book Stores, Lit Festivals, Books Fairs, Storytelling Sessions etc. This further catalyzed her love towards the books, however it took me long to get her onto independent reading but that too eventually happened.

My suggestion it's never too late to "Read Aloud" to your child, they will gradually embrace this undivided attention of yours and will appreciate books more. However, upon my interaction with some fellow parents…I am always told that "my child doesn't shows much interest in reading". In this case it's
 very important to figure out why the child is not interested in reading. 

Some of these could be the possible reasons:
  • Child finds reading a chore & forced activity.
  • Child finds it difficult to read independently.
  • Child hasn’t found the book which interest her/him.
  • Child gets distracted by her/his environment.
  • Child does not have anyone to observe reading.  
  • Child doesn't visit library or book stores often.
  • Child is yet to experience a "Reading Play Date" or a "Book Literature Festival".

Once you have identified the reason(s), then it's easier to address the concern and work upon by making reading more enjoyable. By helping your child tackle the reason and encouraging better reading habits, it's more likely your child would develop liking for reading. 

Try these strategies to encourage good reading habits in your child. 

1. Create "Reading Area or Corner" at home. 

Assemble an area for your child to read in her/his favourite space at home taking their help. You can simply grab a bean bag chair, their favourite soft toys or accessories, books of your choice, a DIY or a store bought Book Shelf and your child will have his or her own cozy reading corner. Encourage your child to plan and set-up her/his reading corner along with you. Consider rotating books weekly or bi-weekly basis your child's interest levels. 

2. Encourage reading everywhere.

Do not limit reading only to books and help them understand that reading is everywhere. Ensure that reading becomes an essential part of your child's daily routine. Guide your child to read menu in a restaurant, roadside signs, weather reports, newspaper, labels in supermarket, billboards or banners in the neighborhood, notice in the society building and any other practical everyday information. Ensure they have something or the other to read in their immediate environment.

3. Be consistent and read each day.

Consistency is the key to READING !

Make reading part of your child's daily routine and you may also incorporate bedtime reading. 'Read Aloud' to your child every night just before bed, this would help your child associate reading with relaxation. 

4. Be a role model.

Try to set yourself as an example for your child to imitate. When your child would see you read books, newspapers, magazines etc. they would understand that reading is important and it can also be entertaining or relaxing. Motivate your child to join you with his/her own book while you are reading and you both can enjoy some quiet time together reading. You may also extend this exercise by discussing the book your child is reading and encourage questions like; 
  • what she/he liked or disliked in the story?   
  • what was the favorite part of the story?
  • something they learnt which they weren't aware of?
  • did she/he associate themselves with any story character?

5. Help them develop language skills using "Phonic Books" & "Early Readers".

Helping your child develop language skills using phonics makes the 'Reading Journey' much easier as it directs the child to break words - up into simpler sounds. This technique of stringing sounds together to formulate complex words equips children and even offers them confidence to read independently. 

I had done a detailed post on Phonetic Reading a while ago, you may have a look here Why is Phonics Reading Important ? Further, to phonics you may introduce your child to "Early Reader Series" by various publishers to help them practice their reading skills and build proficiency. 

6. Help your child choose "Age-appropriate books".

It's very important to select and offer your child age-appropriate books to avoid frustration and loss of interest in reading. Ensure right selection of books while reading aloud to your child or offering them one to read independently. Also, encourage questions once he/she is done reading. For example you can ask them what they liked the most about the story? Is there any story character they associate themselves with? If given a choice what they would like to change in the story? etc. 

7. Help your child explore and identify their interest.

Help your child explore different types of books (Fiction / Non-fiction) and delve deeper into various genres like classics, history, biographies, adventure, encyclopedia, fantasy etc. The more inquisitive your child will be in a topic or subject matter, the more she/he will be motivated to read!

8. Maintain a "Reading Log".

Another wonderful way to encourage children to read and track their reading progress is introducing them to a Reading Log. Sharing a format here 👇 but you can always modify it as per your requirements and make it more suitable as per your child's age and reading level. This would help you and your child to reflect and assess if any change in routine or books is needed.

Source: Template Lab

9. Read the book, then watch the movie.

I usually prefer having Ms. A read the book first and if there is an option for an Audio Book of the same title or a Movie; then we go ahead and explore that. This helps me reinforce her interest in reading and she also draws comparison between the two and highlights her preference. You may choose either way as far as it helps your child.

10. Build connections between reading and real-life activities.

Help your child to implement the acquired information or knowledge in her/his everyday life. Building connections between books and their own real-life experiences can help increase their interest in reading. For example we read this book about "A Child's Guide To Yoga" and then we tried practicing the yoga poses we read about in the book. 

11. Incorporate "Book Inspired Activities".

You may instill more love for reading in your child by incorporating "Book Inspired Activities" along with their reading routine. It could be any simple activity which can revolve around the story characters and the story plot. You may check this one sample activity 👇we did when we read Elmer by David Mckee.

12. Celebrate "Favourite Book Day or Author Day".

You can make reading evening more exciting by having your child dress up as their "Favorite Book Character" or read a book from their favorite author. My Ms. A dressed up as "Cat in the Hat" from Dr. Suess Book during "Wacky Wednesday Celebration" at her school.

13. Visit local library or a book store. 

Reading can also be made fun with the help of a "Library Card"Take your child to the community or local libraries and if you do not have libraries in your vicinity then you may also make them visit local "Book Stores".

14. Make your child experience "Book Literature Festivals & Book Fairs".

If your child will get to interact with books at various platforms, it would be very enriching experience for her/him. One such opportunity is having your child attend various literature festivals and fairs. They get to attend read aloud sessions by the authors, sketching workshops by illustrators, book based art & craft activities and many other numerous things during such events. 

15. Make use of technological tools and creative apps (Audiobooks, EPIC etc.)

Though, I always prefer physical copy of books for reading especially when it comes to children. However, there are circumstances when we do not have access to physical books or we do not have the book titles we need to compliment our child's learning. In such scenarios a "Reading Applications", "Audiobooks" and similar creative applications which gives access to variety of books in multiple languages and format, would surely be a great and an effective resource. Read my detailed post on EPIC here.

That was my exhaustive list of ways you may encourage your child to read. In addition to the above you may also consider to introduce "Cookery Books" and help you child read ingredients and instructions. This would work well for improving comprehension. You may also consider starting a "Reading Club" along with your child's friends and help them share books & experiences. You can take this even forward by using books as "Gifting Options" and teach your child that it's a great way to connect with others.

Above all you are the one who can help your child fall in love with Books & Reading, so keep reading.