There are many ways parents can help instill a love of reading in young children.
Reading, talking, and singing to your baby are the first steps toward literacy.
When reading books with preschoolers, talking about what you see in the pictures helps them to understand that books carry a message.
Young children love books with rhymes, silly words or repeated phrases. By reading the same books over and over, children learn the familiar words and are excited to ‘read’ the book by themselves.
All of these early experiences prepare a child for the early school years and independent reading.
When a child is ready to start learning to read on his own, parents can help by providing a variety of reading opportunities.
• Take turns reading to each other. Beginning readers can sometimes become frustrated, but by taking turns the child has a chance to relax and hear the story. When your child is reading, be patient but step in to help if she is overwhelmed. More advanced readers still benefit from reading aloud and having you read aloud to them.
• Let your child see you read. Instead of watching TV together in the evening, set aside a few minutes to read silently.
• Borrow magazines from the library that are suited to your child’s interests. Age-appropriate comic books and joke books are also good choices.
• Many popular children’s books have been made into movies. After your child has read the book, watch the movie together and ask him to compare. Did he like the book or the movie better? Was the movie true to the book, or were there some changes?
• Read materials other than books. When information sheets come home from school, ask your child to read them to you. Enlist her help by having her read a recipe when you bake, or read the instructions for assembling or operating a new item.
• Ask your child a question about a particular topic and let him do an Internet search to find out the answer.
• Play games that require reading instructions on spaces or cards, or word games like Scrabble or Boggle.
• Encourage her to start a daily journal. Give her a notebook where she can write one or two sentences about her day.
When you give your child a variety of reading experiences each day, his literacy skills will continue to develop. In turn, as his abilities increase, reading will become more enjoyable. When a child is a confident and capable reader, it paves the way for later successes in school and in life.
Shawna Munro works at the Elspeth Reid Family Resource Centre, a facility of Child and Family Services of Western Manitoba that offers parenting information and support.
» 255 Ninth St., Brandon