How to get your child to read?

Is reading at the top of the list of habits you would like to cultivate in your child?
If yes, then you are probably also aware that as a parent you have the power to empower your child to unlock his or her full potential and reading plays a significant part in this. Yet reading is not a skill all kids just pick up naturally.
Knowing this, can be daunting to a lot of parents. I know it was for me, till I realized early on, love for reading can be slowly but surely nurtured. A realization that turned into a joyful learning experience for me…a return to childhood with my kids as we embarked on a reading journey.
From an initial haphazard start of cajoling, convincing, bargaining with them to get them to read, to now keeping track of the kinds of books and content for age appropriate reading, it has been an interesting and exciting ride.

So how to get your child not just keenly interested in reading but sustain and grow that interest? So much so, that their actions follow their interest and they look forward to reading with growing eagerness.

Thought I would share some of the tips or rather activities that have been working well for me.

  • Read aloud to your kids

You have probably heard this before, several times over.
But I found this does help immensely. In fact reading aloud to my kids I feel has worked wonders. It would be great to start this right from when they are toddlers or even earlier. But it is never too late to begin.
This is a great way of introducing them to the world and joy of books, apart from helping you bond. You may very well find this to be a much anticipated activity, that continues even after your children have turned into proficient readers.
Children can be great listeners and observers once you capture their attention.
Well, I am yet come across a child who I found is not absorbing all the audio visual information around him or her, in spite of sporting an indifferent look.

Now coming to the catch…ie., sparking their interest and gaining their attention. Lead by example and show your enthusiasm as you read and soon…their curiosity will be stoked and mimic you they will.

Read out loud and don’t hold back, infuse your words with feeling and yes….dramatization helps. Using puppets or props to dramatize, if you feel up to it, can intensify the read aloud experience for both you and your children.

Of course, don’t forget to sit back and enjoy yourself, as you pick up a book to read aloud to them!


  • Discuss about books already read

It really helps to talk about the books, that you have already read out to them or the ones they have read.
Ask them about their favorite characters, what they liked and did not like about the book and let them ask you as well. Talk about alternate endings or beginnings to the stories. If the book has been made into a movie, schedule sometime to watch it together. Nothing can trigger off a lively and sparkling conversation, like a comparison between the book and the movie made based on the book.


  • Repetition

Reading the same story that the children really enjoy, every day or on alternate days can yield benefits. This will help inspire them to try reading the same story by themselves. Listening to the same story can encourage them to finish some of the lines in the story from memory and also mimic you by trying to read. This will go a long way in building self confidence in their reading capability, motivating them further. Repetitive listening of the same story is known to have other advantages associated with memory enhancement as well.


  • Establish a reading rhythm

Set up a not-too-rigid reading schedule where you set apart some time every day towards activities to encourage reading. The aim here is to start and sustain the reading activities and have fun along the way!

You will observe that initially from a conscious daily effort, reading will gradually and eventually be inculcated as a habit.


  • Encourage them to pick a book

Show them a set of age appropriate books. Let them choose a book that they would like to read or be read out to them. This engages them in the process and also helps you identify the kind of books they are leaning towards. Ensure that you let each of your children take turns in picking a book and don’t forget your turn as well.


  • Picture books

Start with picture books that contain short and simple sentences in large and easy-to-read font.
Play show and tell with the pictures before you even start reading. Then compare that with what you read.
Point to each word as you read. Then point at the picture once you complete reading the sentences on that page. This will allow them to familiarize themselves with the words that form the sentences and how it associates with the picture.


  • Show tons of appreciation

For a beginner trying to read, every single word counts. Every word for which they take the initiative and are able to independently read, ensure you praise them and openly show your appreciation in words and with expression.
When they see that you are enjoying listening to them, they will naturally feel encouraged to go further as they read aloud to you. Continue to show your appreciation as they progress from words to sentences to paragraphs. Soon you will find it is time to introduce chapter books.


  • Read together taking turns

Slowly begin taking turns along with them to read aloud a few lines from the book. Gradually let them read more lines than you do in your turn. Might seem like a simple enough tip, but will go a long way in building their proficiency in reading.


  • Interactive Quiz time

Pick a book on General Knowledge and engage them in a game of quiz.
You can take turns to pick the topic and to be the quiz master. The quiz master can silently read facts from the book to herself/himself and then frame a question based on what was read. Keep it simple. It is a game I found children enjoy and and it is a fun way to encourage them to explore and read non-fiction books and expand their knowledge as well.


  • Send them on a word, scene or character quest

As you progress with the reading activities, this is something that helps sustain the interest in reading and introduces the concept of reviewing and appreciating the book.
Ask the child to find the most interesting, or funniest or silliest (you get the idea) lines, word or characters from the book and share it with you.


  • Role playing

Pick a story or a short play that has already been read and have them enact it out. Also try it with different sets of play acting rules, where you don’t have to stay true to the plot of the story and allow for variations. This will help fire up their interest and imagination as well.
Don’t forget to join in on the fun and play a character from the story as well.


  • Take them along to the local library or book store

Introduce weekend outings to libraries and book stores. Expose them to different types of children’s books, both fiction and non-fiction and give them access to a variety of age appropriate books. This will also help build their awareness to a wide range of book genres out there for them to choose from. Let them feel free to pick and choose a book of their liking during every visit.


  • Create pleasant memories of reading

Make reading a delightful experience that engages multiple senses. Multiple stimulation is known to lead to enhanced memory. Few things can beat the pleasure of that first look, feel, touch and smell of a book. These get registered in their minds even before they hear the words being read out aloud, or begin reading the book themselves. Serve some delicious cookies, savories and beverages like hot chocolate or cold lemonade for instance, to go with the reading to enhance the experience. Also ensure your spirits are up and buoyant during the reading session to create joyful memories. Memories that are associated with reading.

This will enable the kids to strongly perceive reading as an enjoyable and cheerful activity that they will long for and look forward to.

On the same lines, it can certainly help to invest in a modest library at home, of selected children’s books and don’t forget to reserve a room or even a corner for reading in the house. So go on a book shopping spree with your kids (with a predetermined budget of course) 😉 and start creating compelling and multi-sensory magical memories of reading.


I think I will stop here and probably in a future post also share the titles of some of the books that I enjoy reading with my children.

Would love to hear from you, on reading tips and tricks that worked for you!


©2016 RajaRajeshwari Nagasigamani

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