By Rob Burtt
From a very young age, I can always recall my late father with a book in his hand. Whether it was a Reader’s Digest or a Louis L’Amour classic (look that one up folks), he was always reading. I know for a fact he completed all the Louis L’Amour novels (89) in a couple of years. That always amazed me. Because of this, I’ve enjoyed reading though I am far more attracted to non-fiction rather than fiction.
As a parent of three children myself, along with their mother, we have attempted to instill in each of our kids the importance of reading from an early age. It has not always been easy because we are dealing with three different personalities but we persisted because there aren’t any negatives to becoming well read. It has been proven that it not only assists with early brain development and literacy, but also increases vocabulary from an early age and helps children develop a greater imagination and creativity.
As parents, we are our children’s first teacher so I came up with some tips, in no particular order, that might be able to assist you along the way:
- Have lots of books around – This might seem like an obvious one but in a world where Kindle and iBook are becoming more popular, nothing beats having a good ol’paper book around. To be more cost effective, I have purchased many at garage sales and even from Facebook community selling pages. You can usually get them for a fraction of the price. I have even bought a Groupon (the app) for a local bookstore that cost $11 for a $20 worth of books. I let my kids go and pick whatever they wanted and it was fun and memorable activity for each of them.
- Make it a habit – How you do this is completely up to you. The bedtime story is always great and once they are older they can read to you. I have some friends that make sure their children read each day when they get home from school before any other activities happen. Setting a “reading time” can help them understand how important reading is and will hopefully be something they look forward too.
- Use voices when you read to them – Does this sound scary? It’s not. Your child will not care what you sound like either. They will love it. Use different voices and even make sound effects. They will remember the story better when you and them become part of it.
- Utilize the pictures as hints – If your child is having a hard time with a specific word, sometimes using the pictures can help through.
- Stay positive and patient – As parents, we need to be supportive and never critical as they venture down this learning path. You want your child to look forward to reading so inspire them with optimism. Reading is tough so give lots of positive feedback.
- Have them read aloud – Having your child read aloud can not only help them retain what they are reading but assist them in understanding pronunciation and eventually, definition.
- Reread books/stories often – Speaking from experience, I can’t tell you the number of times I have read “I Love You Forever” by Robert Munsch. But, my girls loved it so read it and read it and read it. As they got older, they read it. They say success comes from consistency so introduce new books often but never be afraid to go back and reread one you have read before. Let your children pick.
- Get them a journal – Hand in hand with reading is developing a child’s imagination. A journal is a wonderful way for them to learn writing skills but also ways to express their ingenuity and creativity. It doesn’t matter if they only write a few words to start. It’s a great habit to develop. Once they have journaled for a time, you can go back and them read it. Encourage them to write memories and good experiences that help them bolster confidence. They will enjoy rereading journal entries as they get older.
- Be an example – Letting your kids see you read is important. If they see you reading, it will encourage them to do the same. If you do set specific “reading time” for them to read daily, make sure you’re doing the same. There is power in positive example. Remember, you’re always being watched.
- Celebrate their successes – In my opinion, this is a critical step. You could do it by creating a poster with stickers for specific milestones. You could make it an ice cream or movie reward too. Anything goes. Just make sure you set up some type of reward system. Pinterest has lots of great ideas if you need some.
Nurturing the love and excitement takes of reading time, patience, and love. As adults, we can forget the struggles we had when we were young. Don’t give up and if you need help, there are lots of resources through local educational agencies as well online. Don’t be afraid to ask if you need help. With loving persistence, you’ll be raising a reader in no time.
Rob is a single father of three children. He enjoys playing guitar, exercising, photography, and blogging through the waters of single parental bliss. Feel free to connect with him here: