One of the most important things we can do as parents, at least in terms of encouraging the education of our children, is to encourage them to read. Reading is a critical element of education that can have a significant impact on us as adults.
Therefore, the sooner we can get them excited about reading and the more we can keep them excited about reading, the better.
The Reading Literacy Problem in America
Companies frequently struggle to fill jobs requiring fundamental skills, while literacy capital is at an all-time low. According to the US Department of Education’s Regional Professional Development Center, “In California, over half of all adults aren’t proficient readers and 6,151,072 (nearly 1 in 5) haven’t earned a high school diploma or its equivalent. The costs to society are enormous.”
On an economic level, the return on investment is enormous. A literate work force brings more business leading to greater productivity, enhanced job security, higher wages, increased consumer spending and tax revenues, reduced correctional prices, as well as a reduced drain on social services. Being literate is the most fundamental employable skill, the fundamental component of economic development and living wage occupations.
On a private level, parents are in a better position to support their children’s schooling, and reading helps stimulate and grow their minds. Adults that have the ability to read and write are more joyful and tend to live in a healthier state of mind and enjoy a better quality of life.
Reading Can Affect a Child’s Outcome
Reading to children has been found to be related to reading achievement, emergent literacy and language development. Moreover, reading to children provokes them to read books themselves and further develop their cognitive abilities.
Cognitive abilities aren’t fixed, but can be affected through investment in education in school, preschool training, and parental assistance. The best interval for cognitive ability investment by parents is early on in the life of their children.
Previous studies have found a positive organization of parents reading to their children as well as the child’s subsequent reading abilities, language abilities and cognitive growth (Cunha et al., 2006).
Children that are read to more often at a young age enter school with bigger vocabularies and more advanced comprehension skills. Studies have found that reading storybooks to children is among the main tasks for acquiring the knowledge necessary for eventual success in reading (Mol & Bus, 2011).
According to the Department of Education and Early Childhood development, University of Melbourne Australia, the frequency of reading to children at a young age has a direct causal effect on their education consequences regardless of their family history as well as home environment.
The department draws the following conclusions after its research on the effects reading to children has on their reading skills and other abilities later on in life:
- Reading to children at age 4-5 every day has a major favorable effect on their reading abilities and cognitive abilities (i.e., language and literacy, numeracy and cognition) later in life.
- Children read to more frequently achieve higher scores on benchmark tests.
The more often you keep various reading materials there are in the house, the higher pupils are in reading ability, in line with the Educational Testing Service. The Educational Testing Services reported that pupils who do more reading at home are better readers and have higher mathematics scores; as they get older too.
Can’t afford reading materials?
Encourage them to read anything and everything they can. Junk mail, billboards, advertisements, magazines in waiting rooms, etc… Another thing you could do is take them to the library to borrow a plethora of reading materials.
Regardless of how you obtain the materials, the important thing is to get them reading often.
Importance of Reading to Children
Many parents read a story every night to their children. The advantages related to a simple daily bedtime story appear never-ending.
Below are just some of them.
1 – Teaches Basic Writing and Reading Skills
When children are being read to, they’re taking in a lot of things at once. Things that seasoned readers may take for granted are being introduced during the very first couple of years of life while listening to a narrative.
Children start learning the proper way to hold a book, how to turn the pages from left to right, and how to focus on the page simply by observing someone as they read to them.
Prior to becoming readers themselves, children also realize that books include words and images and in some cases they can even begin recognizing what some words and letters look like.
They start to understand the printed text is read from right to left and top to bottom, which also prepares them for when they get started learning how to write. School districts anticipate children to be reading word texts that are easy by the end of kindergarten, and by having these basic skills, they can be propelled toward success.
2 – Teaches Essential Listening Skills
Some children do not have the skill to sit still long enough to listen to a narrative. It’s possible that some children might have trouble due to a learning disorder, but more often than not, children that don’t sit still for the entire story may just lack the insight as to what story time entails.
Making story time at home a day-to-day, fun and engaging activity can support children to get excited about story time at school, which may also deter behavior problems.
3 – Encourages Vocabulary and Language Abilities
Think of all the new words children hear from many books. Our day-to-day dialogs don’t need much use of complicated language or vocabulary and may hinder the growth of a child’s verbal language.
Reading to a child can introduce many new words, particularly when reading nonfiction books to them. Children’s literature provides great models of language for children as well.
Hearing the words pronounced over and over again can nurture children’s language development.
4 – Cultivates a Love of Reading
Empowering children to relish reading is among the main things a parent can do to get their children excited about learning. Children will learn reading abilities in school; however, they’re going to come to connect reading with work, not happiness.
For this reason, they may lose their zeal to read, which affects their schoolwork and learning process. Because we want our children happy while reading, we must associate it with fun while at home.
5 – Improves Parent-Child Bond
Reading aloud also creates a specific time for parents to bond with their children. Cuddling for a bedtime story, you will be helping your children develop a lifelong appreciation for reading.
Sometimes children frequently want to hear the exact same story over and over again – it’s nothing strange. Just as adults might have to hear something more than once to remember or comprehend, children are the same way too.
Start your child in the path you would want him/her to go and watch them finally walk that path. The importance of reading to children cannot be overemphasized, only eventual outcome will tell.
Best Ways to Make Reading Fun For Your Children
Reading is very important for children, but oftentimes they simply are not inspired to do it because it does not look like much fun to sit still and focus.
Reading can be fun, but it takes a little imagination and you can help inspired this imagination to blossom. Below you’ll find several helpful ways by which you can help to make reading fun for your children.
1 – Read in the Dark
Why, you ask? Well, the reason this will probably be enjoyable for your children is that it is different in relation to the typical manner they are supposed to read.
You can give them a little flashlight to use as they sit in their own bed before bedtime or you can also make a “fort” out of sheets and let them read in there.
2 – Make use of a Graph
Some children want to view the progress they are making with the things they’re doing. For these children, make a reading graph.
One that enables them to monitor while charting how many books and novels they read as well as how many pages they’re reading.
You can give them a little prize when they read so many pages per week or so many books per month to make it even more interesting. Then, it becomes a challenge to earn the prize, thereby making reading extra enjoyable.
3 – Read to them
This might not be a fresh idea, but children tend to love being read to well into grade school.
This could be in part because this is the time that their parents are completely focused on them. To add to the enjoyment, let them pick the book.
4 – Read Along Publications
An additional way you’ll be able to make reading fun for your children is always to buy read along books complete with a CD of the audio version, or to watch read along videos on free sites such as YouTube.
Just like it sounds, as the video or audio plays, children read along.
5 – Activity Books
Activity Books are another excellent tool for making reading fun for children. There are lots of kits which have a book and an activity with them. As an example, there are lots of excavation kits out there where children can dig for buried treasure or dinosaur bones for the activity component and read comprised books later.
For smaller children, many coloring books have a sentence on top of the page to spell out what is happening in the graphic or are in the type of narratives.
6 – Playing Word and Reading Games
There are lots of word and reading games which were created to encourage reading. Leap Frog, for example, has many products including Fridge Phonics, Tag and Tag Junior, Fridge Words, AlphaPet Explorer and several more.
While you should restrict the period of time your children play with these, they can be invaluable in making reading pleasurable, since they socialize with your children.
How to Start Early With Reading For Children
Bringing out the genius in a child is a duty that all parents should enjoy undertaking. By starting reading lessons early, you could be awakening the genius within much sooner. Every child looks up to their parent(s) as a role model, at least in the early years.
So you have a responsibility to lead your child and encourage him/her to have a deep, enduring thirst for knowledge. Your approach will determine, to a certain extent, how much and how quickly your child is going to learn to read and love reading. Starting to read early helps a great deal.
For instance, in the event you whine about just how much stuff you need to read and always bring work home, it’s going to have an undesirable effect on your children. With that said, you can start your children reading early by following some of these reading suggestions.
1 – Have an Environment Filled With Books
Go for visually rich and colorful children’s books. There are a lot of books like this available and children are always intrigued by images and colors that pique their interest.
2 – Read Out Loud
Read your child nursery rhymes or stories. Set aside 15 minutes to half an hour daily for this. Besides creating a close and warm relationship with your child, there’s an intellectual aspect in these types of sessions.
Reading aloud has more than one advantage. Your child will likely be content to have your complete attention, if only for reading time.
In addition, you develop a close bond involving you and your children, as being close gives them a sense of love and attention and this helps her to feel safe.
The most effective time for read aloud is just before bedtime. He/she has changed into her PJs for the nighttime, and has had his/her dinner and bath time is over.
At this point, all that is left to do is be ready and reactive to indulge in hearing the written word as your child listens to the various tones in your voice.
Occasionally your child may not seem patient, favoring specific pages to bypass and come to the good part. It’s important to not be discouraged by this.
Instead, the key point is that the child should love such sessions because with it comes the joy of education. Don’t rush things along because you’re in a hurry either- things should be going at their pace so they don’t get frustrated with the stress of rushing through a story.
Remember to alter your pitch and tone, and remember that a good bit of performing helps to provide your son or daughter a feeling of the characters and the storyline.
3 – Consistency is the Key
Make an effort to stick to a reading program that is consistent. Postponing a reading session devalues the reading and could in turn make your child feel devalued as well.
Structure and scheduling is very important to narrative time, as it gives your child the experience of engagement.
Breaking Down Reading Levels by Age
Encouraging a child to begin reading as soon as possible is a great thing to do, as it builds a love for learning while helping the child to be more imaginative.
To understand that children have different reading levels with each age is important because there are things that young children may not grasp as well as that of an older child.
For example, a long story with about 20 pages of text is a great read for a nine year old, where that may be too long for a four year old to sit through and follow. Here are some helpful tips on how you may encourage reading at each level:
1 – Infant, from Birth to 3 Years Old
To begin reading to your child at infancy allows them to see that you enjoy reading because it is a fun thing to do. To take your child to the library where they can see other children playing and interacting with books is a wonderful way to continue the encouragement of reading as a fun activity.
In this stage you will simply be reading to your child and showing them pictures. Reading will likely consist of very small books catered to their age, such as one with just a handful of cardboard pages, with few words and mostly pictures.
It is essential at this age that you read with a happy tone and show excitement rather than a forceful and boring way, as this sets the perception of how to feel about reading for the ages to follow.
2 – Preschool, 3 to 5 Years Old
This is the age where you may begin to teach them to read by pointing to a word and/or picture and saying it out loud. To read clearly and show enthusiasm while reading to your child, will encourage them to want to read as well.
You could offer the child an incentive, such as a small toy or treat, for reading. Even just letting them choose a book and handing it to you for you to read is perfect at this age.
3 – Kindergarten, 5 to 6 Years Old
This is a critical part of teaching your child to read as this is the age where they focus the beginning of their education on reading and writing.
Even though they attend school and are learning to read with teachers and other students, children learn and take in most of what they know by what their own parents and family members do.
To encourage your child to enjoy reading, making it important and a daily routine to include reading a book is a great way for them to see that you like doing it.
4 – Elementary, 6 to 12 Years Old
By this time children should enjoy reading on their own and are able to read longer, attention grabbing books as time goes on.
Weekly trips to the library, at-home reading time, and games which focus on reading are all great things to do at this age in order to continue the encouragement of reading. If you choose to, you can also give incentives for reading at this age too.
For example, a child who reads five books per week gets them a small toy or ice cream.
Then, as they get older, let’s say 10 years old, would have to read 40 pages or more of a book per week and be treated to a movie on the weekend as their reward.
It’s imperative that as the child grows up you keep reiterating how rewarding reading can be.
With any luck, at some point you won’t even need the incentives anymore because they will have learned to love reading and the stories they consume will be rewarding enough.