5 Things First Time Parents Can Do To Raise Lifelong Readers
Do you want the best for your kids?
Of course you do. You want your children to have everything you never had. You want to see them flourish in their future. Just one problem . . .
If your child is not reading daily it could be setting them up for a less successful future. When a child isn’t a good reader they naturally become less efficient readers. They might get labeled as a “slow reader” or as having “delayed language skills” by their teachers.
It’s a label that gets passed on with them from grade to grade. Sure, it means they’ll get more attention from the teachers, but possibly the wrong kind of attention. Instead of being pushed into advanced programs they’ll be placed in remedial programs.
It’s an unfortunate design flaw in the school system and a hard cycle to break. Once they fall behind it’s nearly impossible to get back into the advanced track. The advanced track is where you want them.
In the advanced track they’ll have access to teachers who will focus on higher education. It becomes a snowball effect where, because they are in advanced classes, they continue to advance.
The easiest way to help your child get on this advanced path is through reading. When they have strong reading skills they will have better communication skills, spelling, vocabulary, and empathy. It’s unfortunate that we live in a society that puts labels on everything and everyone, but it’s not something we can change.
What we can change are the labels they put on our children. The easiest way to do that is to turn your child into a lifelong reader who loves books. It really is the best thing you can do for your child in their early years to make sure their future flourishes.
Here are 5 ways you can do exactly that . . .
1. Read Out Loud to Your Kids
Educators and child development specialists have been saying it for years, and kids have been asking for it every night since the invention of the printing press. Reading out loud to your kids is a great way to wind down at the end of the day and bond with the little rugrats, and it’s also the best way to get them to love reading, hands down.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a division of the U.S. Department of Education, children who are read to out loud frequently by their parents and by other adults in their lives are more than twice as likely to recognize all letters of the alphabet. They also learn to write their names sooner and begin reading at an earlier age, and are far more likely to continue reading for fun in later childhood and adulthood.
Reading to your kids daily will promote language development and reading skills better than anything else, and it makes reading a comforting and loving experience. That’s something you’ll both be able to cherish forever.
2. Make Sure Reading Means Actual Books, Not Just Screens
Tablets and eReaders are a convenient way for grownups to carry around a LOT of reading material, and they can be great for kids, too—especially when traveling or stuck at the doctor’s office. But screens shouldn’t be the sole source of reading material if you want your kids to love reading for the rest of their lives.
There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that reading actual, physical books is an important part of kids’ development. Infants and toddlers thrive on tactile experiences, and being able to hold books makes reading—and being read to—more fun and more engaging. Books that can’t be read on a screen can also help older kids concentrate on their reading and develop a greater appreciation for it.
Magazines and newspapers are great to have around, too. The more different types of reading material you have in the house, the greater your kids’ reading proficiency will tend to be. So keep that eReader handy, but be sure there’s plenty of physical reading material to grab.
A just-for-kids book club makes for an easy way to ensure there’s always some fresh reading material on hand that your youngster will enjoy, and what kid doesn’t love getting something in the mail? Make it a monthly event and make each book an exciting adventure!
3. Make Rain-Gutter Bookshelves
This idea comes from the Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease and has been all the rage on Pinterest and with DIYers around the web. It’s simple, too: get some stylish-looking rain gutters, tack them up on the wall (and decorate however you want), and voilà! You have an instant bookshelf that doesn’t cost much, doesn’t take up a lot of room, and best of all it displays your kids’ books rather than hiding them away.
There’s also added bonus that rain-gutter bookshelves can’t be climbed or pulled over, which definitely comes in handy once your toddlers hit the exploring stage (which, by the way, never ends).
4. Visit Your Library
It isn’t just physical books that have been neglected in the Digital Age. The public library is a resource many have forgotten about given the ease of instantly downloading pretty much any book you want. But libraries are a great way to kindle a love of reading in your kid, and to rekindle your own passions if you find them slipping.
First, all kids love an outing. A trip to the library is a fun and positive experience simply because it’s a chance to get out in the world; fill that experience with books and the great children’s programs most libraries have, and they won’t be able to help falling in love with books and reading.
Second, libraries give people of all ages a chance to discover books they might never have known existed. Browsing through the library and seeing the sheer number of books available never ceases to inspire and amaze, and kids who get filled with that sense of wonder early on are likely to keep pursuing new ideas for the rest of their lives.
Libraries let you borrow books, but the knowledge and experience they provide is something you and your kids get to keep.
5. Keep a Constant Stream of Reading Material Handy
Any parent of a toddler knows you’ll probably cycle through the same handful of bedtime stories for weeks at a time before some new favorites suddenly replace the old ones.
Repetition is important for infant, toddler, and Pre-K development, but it’s also important to continually introduce new stories, characters, and words to your child.
Kids love anything new or different, and getting them excited about new books is a powerful way to ensure their love for reading and discovering new information will last them a lifetime. Let them live with their new favorites for a time, but make sure they keep turning over so you and your child don’t get stuck in a reading rut.
Keep things fresh with revolving books on your rain-gutter shelves, regular trips to the library, and a monthly book club membership that’s just for them, and books will become a source of never-ending magic.
Photos © Shutterstock.com. Bookshelves © Cleanandscentsible.com