Guest Blog Post From, Danielle Hegedus
The Children’s Reading Foundation recommends reading with your child for at least 20 minutes a day. Reading with your children at an early age (even in infancy) is key to language development, listening skills, and overall academic performance. Read on for suggestions on how to create the space and time necessary to foster a love of reading in your child, making reading an important aspect of your relationship.
Keep Plenty of Reading Material On Hand
Building a library for your child doesn’t have to be expensive. Look for book fairs held at your local schools, libraries, churches and community centers. Also hit up yard sales and thrift stores. Talk to parents in your community about setting up a book swap to keep the books in your child’s library fresh. You can also sign up for magazine subscriptions or check out Zoobean to give your child new reading materials to look forward to each month.
Create a Kid-Friendly Reading Nook
If you’re trying to convince your kids to read at the kitchen table while you prepare dinner, it will feel like a chore. Instead, make reading a special treat for your child by creating a space where they want to hang out. A reading nook just needs good lighting, a comfortable place to sit, and plenty of books. This converted closet provides a comfortable and inviting space for your child to curl up with a book. It also provides convenient storage to build a home library.
I love this whimsical tent with festive lights and comfortable pillows. Child or adult, who wouldn’t want to hang out in here? Reading is an adventure and this unique reading nook only adds to the excitement.
Take Reading Time Beyond the Page
You can make reading more interesting to kids by using fun voices for different characters, but you can take it to the next level with a puppet show. Put on a few puppet shows for your kids so that they understand how they work, and then let them run the show. After you read a book with your children, work together to make simple puppets out of thick construction paper or cardstock and popsicle sticks. I love this set up (pictured) because there is no real construction involved. Simply purchase a large tri-fold display board and decorate it to your liking. With time, you puppet shows can evolve into original works created by your children!
My friend sets up a mini talk show set and encourages her 3-year-old daughter to interview various people in her life. Not only is it adorable, but it really builds her confidence and her vocabulary. Set up two chairs and a faux microphone and encourage your children to pretend to be characters from the book you just read. They can take turns interviewing and role-playing as various characters. “Mr. Caterpillar, just why are you so hungry?”
Walk and Talk With Your Kids
Taking a walk in a park or just in the neighborhood is good for everyone in the family. Add to the benefits of fresh air and exercise by being mindful about the conversation you have with your children. Ask them to point out things that start with the same sound, like a flower and a fence. Encourage them to find objects in their environment that rhyme like tree and bee. Mess For Less has a fun template for a neighborhood I-Spy game. Growing Book by Book also has a fun activity for early readers working on learning the alphabet–a backyard dig!
Stacey Joyner, a reading specialist and program associate with Southwest Educational Development Laboratory (SEDL) Texas Comprehensive Center says, “By helping your child learn to hear the different sounds in words, you are supporting one of the critical skills that children need in order to learn to read well. That skill is called phonemic awareness. By hearing and saying rhymes, singing songs, and clapping syllables, children focus on the sounds in the words.”
Make the Most of Your Commute With Audiobooks
Sitting in traffic is no picnic for anyone, but it can be an opportunity to make the most of having your child’s undivided attention. Between iTunes and Audible.com and hundreds of free family friendly podcasts, there are opportunities for new lessons every car trip. According to Reading Rockets, some of the benefits of audiobooks for young readers include:
- Introducing students to books above their reading level
- Modeling good interpretive reading
- Teaching critical listening
- Introducing new genres that children might not otherwise consider
- Introducing new vocabulary or difficult proper names or locales
Audiobooks are also a great idea for travel during family vacations. Ditch the DVD player and allow the whole family to enjoy a story that you can later discuss. It will also help head off sibling bickering and the inevitable chorus of, “are we there yet?” Goodreads has a great list of recommended audiobooks that are great for kids.
Though parents seem more mindful of the amount of screen time that their kids get these days, it would be foolish to ignore all of the great technology that can help encourage kids to read. Imagination Soup has a long list of recommended apps that can not only help your child become a better reader, but also utilize reward systems similar to video games to motivate your children to continue to improve and master new material. Talk to you child’s teacher and find out what they are using in the classroom that you may also be able to build on at home.
Your child may take a while to develop a love for reading. Their resistance may be because it feels like a chore, or because they feel like they are not good at it. Continue to encourage them. Model your own love of reading. Pick up smaller, more digestible reading like magazines or even blogs on topics in which you know they have an interest. Most of all, be supportive of them in their struggles with reading. Cereal boxes, billboards, or sports scores might not seem sufficient to you, but encouraging and rewarding all reading can give a child the confidence to take on new challenges.
Danielle Hegedus is a freelance writer based in Atlanta, GA. She currently writes about home décor ideas and inspiration for Modernize.com.