Raising a Reader

by Beth York

Want to find out how to raise a reader? Check out these steps and you'll find you are on your way!

1. Read to your baby. It's never to early to introduce your child to books. Read board books to your infant, put cloth books in the crib, and float plastic books in the bathtub. Your children will grow up with the idea that books are integral parts of their lives. If the books have no words, or are word books like First Hundred Words, make up stories about the pictures. Point out all the objects in the pictures. Soon, they will be able to point to them when you say the word and they will understand that there are words for everything.

2. Make time for books. Set aside a specific time to read to your child every day. Nap time and bed time are obvious opportunities. Another opportunity might be over meal time or while they are in the bath tub. If you have a toddler and a baby, try reading to the toddler when you nurse or rock the baby, so they feel special, too. One of our favorites has been the Big Book of Farmyard Tales.

3. Keep books available. Make it easy to read. Keep a tote bag of board books in the car to divert kids while you're running errands and on the nightstand to amuse early risers. Pack a variety of books while traveling.

4. Be a reading role model. Show your children that you value reading. Let them see that you are reading for pleasure, and tell them how much you enjoy reading with them. Use lots of inflection when reading aloud to make the story come alive. Try to use different voices for different. Take them along on trips to the library and book store.

5. Make your own books. Preschoolers can dictate their own stories and then add illustrations. Other ideas? Make a holiday book that shows your family traditions, a birthday book recording party memories, or a travel diary about the family vacation.

6. Read anything and everything. While in the car, encourage your child to read the road signs. In the grocery store, ask the children to find the juice or cereal they want. Learning to differentiate among packages and to recognize road signs is a beginning step in learning how to read.

7. Play with letters. Magnetic letters allow children to spell their name on the refrigerator; letter blocks combine stacking and spelling for double the fun.

8. Read it again and again. Parents may get tired of reading the same favorite book over and over, but repetition is an important development step in learning to read. As they repeat the familiar refrains with you, children begin to associate the words the say with the words on the page. Soon they’ll be recognizing and reading words on their own.

Beth York is a Supervisor and Educational Consultant with Usborne Books at Home.

Copyright © Beth York. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.