Many adults feel there’s no better way to relax than curling up with a good book. Though a relaxing afternoon of reading may appeal to adults, kids could prove a little more reluctant to crack a book.
Children have much to gain from reading and being read to. According to the Children’s Bureau of Southern California, a nonprofit organization devoted to strengthening vulnerable children, their families and the communities where they live, reading aloud to children supports their cognitive development; improves their language skills; prepares them for academic success; increases their discipline and ability to concentrate; and improves their imagination and creativity.
Many of those same benefits apply to kids who read on their own, which may be more appealing as kids advance through elementary school and aspire to become more independent.
Since children have so much to gain from cuddling up with a good book, parents can try these strategies to encourage kids to read more.
• Allow kids to read the same book. Parents of young readers or children learning to read undoubtedly know how much children like to read the same book over and over again. Though that might not engage moms and dads, experts note that allowing kids to read the same books again and again is an effective way to foster a love of reading in children.
Researchers have linked reading the same books again and again to greater vocabulary acquisition and improved reading comprehension, among other benefits. Kids are more likely to enjoy reading if they recognize more words and can better understand the stories, so parents can encourage kids to read the same books again and again.
• Take a book along when running errands or traveling. The Children’s Book Review notes that books can be just as handy in cars as tablets and other devices kids use to watch movies while on the go. Though some children may get car sick when reading while a car is in motion, those who don’t have plenty of time to read while in the backseat. On long road trips, promise a movie after kids have read for an hour. When running errands with the kids in tow, encourage them to read by keeping a couple of books or magazines in the backseat at all times.
• Practice positive reinforcement with emerging readers. Another way to encourage young readers to pick up a book more often is to praise their efforts even if they struggle with words. Patience can go a long way toward instilling a love of reading in children. If kids are struggling with a word or words, read the sentence aloud with them. Reading also has a tendency to pique readers’ curiosity, so parents can encourage kids to ask questions about the books they read and help them find answers to those questions if necessary.
• Enroll kids in library reading programs. Summer reading programs sponsored by local libraries have been found to be conducive to promoting reading in young children. In its report titled “The Role of Public Libraries in Children’s Literacy Development,” the Pennsylvania Library Association indicated that preschool and summer reading programs encourage children to spend significant amounts of time with books and also encourage parents to play a greater role in their children’s literacy development.
Participation in such programs is typically free of charge, so there’s no reason why families cannot take advantage of these highly effective programs.
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