How do I encourage my child to love reading? How do I raise a child reader?
An anxious parent shared that the main reason why she wants her child to start reading from young is because our education system revolves tightly around this. Reading, comprehending and then writing are integral to surviving and succeeding in school.
Her 4-year-old preferred playing with toys and she was terrified that he would be hugely disadvantaged when he started school.
This made me realise how critical reading is and how it isn’t just about encouraging imagination (though you know I’m very pro that!).
Helping your child learn to love reading is one of the biggest gifts you can give to help her succeed in school and work later. Here are my tips on how to raise a child reader, based on 12+ years of reading to children.
1. Take pride in displaying your books
We proudly display things that matter to us (my husband has an extensive collection of Bear Bricks which jostles for space with my shoes -_-). Doing the same to our books creates an environment where reading is respected. Just like toys have their allocated space, so should books. Give your child an easily accessible shelf for him to arrange his books, either by size, colour or title. Making a physical space encourages us to also have a mental and emotional space for our books.
2. Set a routine for reading
If it’s planned, then it can happen. Having a routine to read, even for just 10 minutes a day, helps cultivate an importance around reading. A few things can help to raise a child reader:
• A set time to storytelling, such as right after bathtime, before bedtime or after meals. My dad used to read us one page from the encyclopedia every day after dinner.
• A signal to indicate it is storytime, such as walking to the book shelf and asking “It’s storytime! What shall we read today?”.
• A prop, such as a reading cape or hat (household things like a towel or newspaper hat work!).
3. Jump out of the pages
Children’s stories now take the form of movies, theatre productions, workshops, themed parties… There are so many ways to experience a book! If your child hasn’t quite taken to books yet, introduce the storyline via one of these forms, then encourage her to read together with you. Discuss how the book and other form are similar and different, eg. Did you imagine the hero to sound like that? Did you imagine the fantasy world to look like this?
Side note: I love bringing books to live and your child is more than welcome to join me at my themed workshops!
4. Play a game in the library
Make this a game!
• For younger children: Make this a treasure hunt. Look for three books which have certain illustrations on the cover (eg. a dog, a cat, a dinosaur, a girl & a boy, a bicycle, a car). This game trains your child’s observation skills and starts positivelee (hur hur couldn’t help myself there!) associating books with fun.
•For older children: Pick books for each other! Ask your child to pick a book for you to read, and vice versa. Talk about why you choose the book for her and ask why she choose the book for you. You can learn so much about what your child values and what she thinks you like!
5. Be a reader of physical books / newspapers
I know you know this. Parents inevitably are the role models for their children.
Unfortunately in our digital age, it is hard to tell if staring at your handphone means you’re reading an e-book, vouyeuring on social platforms or watching a Korean drama. Your child won’t know and will soon be clambering to watch YouTube all day.
If your child sees you devouring a physical book, it sends a signal that there is more to life than Peppa Pig.
To raise a child reader, be a fun adult reader too!
One page at a time!
Pick one of these and try it for a month, then add another the next month, and another!
I’m a huge believer of doing small actionable things, as they accumulate to bigger things, like your child willingly wanting to pick a book.
Do you have any tips and tricks of your own on how to raise a child reader? Share them with me in the comments below!
PS: We’ve made it easy for you to select books to read with your child! Here are our top 3 fave elephant books & top 3 fave piggie books to read to children, with loads of other book lists on our blog!