by Amy L
As a Kindergarten teacher, I often have families ask me how they can help their children learn to be better readers or how to help their children enjoy reading more. Studies have shown that exposing children to books at a young age will help them become better readers when they enter elementary school. Follow these tips to help your child start down the path to being a lifelong lover of reading.
1. Make reading part of your daily schedule. Pick a time of the day when reading can be enjoyed by all involved. Perhaps you’ll read as soon as your child wakes up, after school or daycare, after dinner or before bed. Whatever the time you choose, try to read together every day for 15-20 minutes. Children will love the one-on-one time and learn to expect this reading time together. This will help show your child that reading is important to you and can be something you both enjoy together.
photo courtesy of Kalamazoo Public Library
2. Go to community reading events. Story time at the library is a great way to get your children exposed to fun books, finger plays, songs, poems and socialization at a very young age. Your baby is never too little to start story time and it can be a fun way for families to get into the community with their babies.
Getting your child a library card will also make them feel very important and make trips to the library even more special. Young children are also able to participate in summer reading programs alongside older siblings. Many local bookstores, including Barnes and Noble and Bookbug have weekly story times as well as the Kalamazoo Public Library branches and the Portage District Library (and surrounding community libraries as well!) Our Southwest Michigan communities have many different story times available, so you and your child could go to a different story time every day if you wanted to.
3. Include non-fiction books in your child’s bookshelf. Children are expected at younger ages to possess content knowledge about nonfiction topics on standardized tests. Check out several nonfiction books about varying topics – dinosaurs, farm animals, weather, famous people – and find a topic that truly interests your child. As you read more about different topics, your child will gain background knowledge about a variety of subjects and be more prepared to start school. A great asset of the library is children can read about so many different topics and they will gain background knowledge about things they may not otherwise experience. Books truly are the window to the world and can take your child on countless adventures.
4. Create a reading space in your child’s room. This will give your child an opportunity to explore books in his/her room and on his/her time. It will also show your child that you value reading and literacy enough to make a special space. A reading nook would be a great place to hang a reading log for your child to track books or minutes read and see their progress. They can draw pictures in response to what they’ve read and hang them in the space as well. A cozy, comfortable space will make your children want to visit their reading corner every day.
5. Don’t be afraid to re-read (and re-read, and re-read…). Children have favorite books for a reason: they’re fun, silly, cool pictures and/or have rhyming words. Whatever the reason, re-reading is an excellent way to build early literacy skills such as comprehension, retelling, sequencing events, character traits and vocabulary. Your child will find characters they love (Pete the Cat, Pinkalicious, Llama Llama are favorites in our house) and their engagement in the books will be higher. Ask your child questions as you’re reading to help them understand different aspects of the story. Discussing the characters’ feelings, the events of the story, and interesting words are great ways to build early literacy skills.