Reading with children has been shown to have many benefits including expanding vocabulary, increasing attention, improving logic and reasoning, and can also help strengthen relationships and foster communication between caregiver and children. Spending just a few minutes of quality time (QT) reading with a child can make a world of difference. Often, caregivers say that their children “don’t like to read,” “it’s a struggle” to get children to read outside of school materials, or that children prefer “screen time.” There are different strategies and approaches that can help make reading fun and strengthen the caregiver-child bond. Kids can learn reading is fun and positive! This will help avoid any resistance or aversion to reading. Here are some strategies that can be helpful:
- Start early. Reading aloud to infants is a great way to start to expose young ones to language and reading.
- Make it consistent. Reading every day can be easily incorporated into it daily routines. Read one short book or chapter together nightly as the child is settling down into bed, right before bedtime. This can be a great way for everyone to spend some quality time and wind down together. Consistent, quality time spent promotes bonding and calm activities such as reading can be soothing.
- Is your child resistant to reading aloud? Reading to them is a great start, and then slowly encouraging them to identify and/or sound out words, taking turns.
- Use intonation. Let your inner bear, grouch, or silly voice out! This can help engage them, sustain and strengthen their attention, and create special memories together.
- Books are great conversational tools. Focus is not just on reading the words but also engaging the child in conversation. Talk and ask questions! Describe or ask questions about the pictures, elaborate on the story- ask any questions and also give your thoughts. For example, if the story talks about someone being mad and there’s a depiction of the character, ask how can we know the character is mad by looking at him?
- Predict to promote logical thinking skills. As your reading, ask your child to guess what is going to happen next before turning the page! Ask how and why they came up with their prediction, so they can explain their thinking. This can also give you a window into seeing how your child thinks and connects ideas.
- Praise, praise, praise! Giving your child positive feedback by reflecting their thoughts, encouraging their efforts, and making positive statements can help keep them engaged, strengthen attachment, and build self-esteem.
- Think books are too expensive? Public libraries still exist! You can join a library and there are endless books you can borrow FREE! Make an outing of it- take them to the library to pick out a book (many libraries also have story times which can be fun), have a treat (snack, ice cream, etc.), and enjoy the book together! Read it at the library, at a park, at home; books can be read anywhere.