Start Early and Create a Habit
Even if your child is a newborn, there are benefits to reading to them on a regular basis. Babies are soothed by familiar voices, making it the perfect activity before naptime and bedtime. Establishing this routine early will help your child to associate reading time with bedtime.
It also introduces your little one to concepts such as colors, shapes and patterns as well as helps to develop their communication skills. They may not have yet developed the cognition to recognize these things but they can still focus on them.
As far as language goes, by the age of 1 year old, your child has already acquired all the sounds necessary to speak their native language. Reading to them helps to introduce new words into their vocabulary and develop their speech.
Make It Interactive
It really doesn’t take a lot to entertain a child and the more entertained they are, the more interested they are.
You can make reading time exciting and interactive by using different voices for different characters or exaggerating sound effects. Be expressive in your reading and you will have your child’s full attention and appreciation.
Have your child more involved in the reading process by allowing them hold the book and turn the pages. If your child is young and has yet to show interest in reading words, talk about the pictures and what is happening.
If your child is at, or close to, a reading age, point out common words and sounds as you read or simply point to each word as you read it.
Ask them questions throughout the story – not only to see if they comprehend what is happening but also to allow them to expand on the story.
For example, you can ask your child what they think will happen next or why they think a character did what they did.
The beautiful thing about children is they never stagnate – nothing becomes boring and everything is as exciting this time as it was the first time.
So when your child insists on reading the same book over and over, it’s totally okay. You may want to throw in a new book every now and then, but there’s nothing wrong with read the same book every night.
This repetition is helpful in having your child learn sight words. When they are familiar with the story, they will begin to transfer that familiarity to the text.
Plus, you want to encourage them to love reading. So if that means reading the same book they love all the time, then that means reading the same book they love all the time.
Go Beyond the Books
Story time does not always have to involve having a book in your hand. You can explore the excitement of storytelling by going beyond the books.
Sit and draw stories with your child, or have them design the illustrations while you write the text. Get super crafty and staple the pages together to make a bona fide book that can be added to the reading time repertoire.
Check out some online games that encourage reading skills. PBS Kids has an amazing collection of interactive and kid-friendly online games that encourage reading (as well as other) skills.
Lastly, take your little one to the local library. Yes, it is full of books but most libraries offer amazing reading programs for children.
Be a Role Model
Children learn through imitation and observation. If you want them to love reading, you need to show them that you love reading too.
Any moment you can find, grab a book or magazine and read. Share the experience with your child by talking about the story your reading or allowing them to look at the pictures accompanying an article.