Reading Tips From the Pros | Encourage a Love of Reading in Your Child

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With school starting up again, one thing a lot of parents have questions about is reading, especially how to get started and how to encourage it.

My son is nowhere near reading age yet, but once he is, we will have plenty of resources for him since both my mother-in-law and sister-in-law (pictured above) are former reading specialists. To help all of those mamas out there with reading questions, I picked their brains on how to encourage reading at all different ages.

 

How should we build a love for reading in young children?

  • Read from the womb and regularly read to them as they are growing.
  • Let them pick the books and handle the books.  Teach them concepts about print (locate the front and back of the book, you read a book from the front cover to the back, point as you read to teach left to right concept).
  • Provide a print-rich environment (label things in the house like table, door, etc.).
  • Read ABC and rhyming books like Dr. Suess.
  • Provide picture clues (point to the items when you read the word).
  • Read with expression. Change voice with characters, be silly; make it a pleasurable bonding experience.

 

What tips do you have for teaching a child to read?

  • Most importantly, make it fun at first and let them go at their own pace. Too much a toddler playing with alphabet magnets on the refrigerator“teaching” may turn them off.
  • Use magnetic or foam bathtub letters- start with their name, letter names /sounds, move on to common words like mom.
  • Teach basic sight words (Dolch sight word list / Fry sight word list).
  • Have them read a predictable book that is sight word rich and point to the words using a fun pointer (witch fingers, magic wand pointer). 
  • Have them read and reread the same books to build confidence. 
  • Have them read to pets or a stuffed animal, have a special place for them to read, have them record themselves reading and play it back.  
  • Continue to create a print-rich environment and make meaning of words in the environment (for example, at Target- “Look- Target has two ts in it, can you point them out?”).
  • Make books for them with pictures of them doing daily activities and use cutout words to help them form sentences with the individual words. For example, “Beckett likes to play.” This helps them begin to recognize the words with the activities.

 

What should you do to continue to encourage reading once they know how?

  • Take them to the library or bookstore and let them pick out books.
  • Read with them, talk about books you are reading, talk about things they are interested in and check out books on those topics.
  • Establish designated reading times together at home (all devices are put away and you can read together or read next to each other on your own).
  • Have them create their own book club.
  • Ask them to make connections (story-to-self, story-to-story, story-to-world) with the stories they are reading, which will make the story more meaningful and instill the desire to want to keep having those experiences with books.
  • Always encourage them to read the actual book, not the book on an electronic device where it is more tempting to do other things besides reading.

 

an African American boy smiling as he reads a book in the library

 

How do you encourage kids who only read one type of genre to branch out? For example, kids that only want to read sports books and comic books even though those books are discouraged by teachers.

  • Never discourage reading, no matter what. If that’s what a child is interested in and it’s keeping him or her reading, encourage, don’t discourage it. I know teachers feel pressure to help their students branch out with their book interests, but when it comes to students choosing books that they enjoy, who cares if it is always the same genre.  
  • If a child is interested in sports books, that could segue into reading a book about a famous sports player, like Jackie Robinson.  Through reading about Jackie Robinson, your child might start asking about desegregation and why Jackie was treated so poorly just because of the color of his skin.  That could branch out to books about the Civil Rights movement (MLK, Rosa Parks, Ruby Bridges, etc.). 
  • Take them to the bookstore or library and just sit and read the synopsis of books from various genres, check out different genres and let them get a taste of what else they may or may not like. 

 

 

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Amber Marshall
Amber and her husband Justin, are navigating being first time parents in their late thirties, to their son Beckett (2019). When not baby wrangling, yelling don’t eat that or Googling how to deal with back pain, what is this rash, or is my baby teething, they are usually busy DIYing the renovations on their new home in the Metro East. In her work life, Amber works in event sales/event management full time. In the tiny amount of free time she has, you can find her perusing interior design blogs, researching clean beauty trends, exploring art fairs, antique stores, estate sales and creating her own adventures all over the city.

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