Studies show that kids who read outside of school are far more likely to succeed than those who don’t. As a parent, you can help your children enjoy reading, and encourage them to read every day.
- Start early. When you read out loud to young children, they learn the words and sounds they will need to read themselves. More important, they learn that reading is fun, and that reading time is shared with you.
- Set an example. Children copy what they see. When you turn off the TV and read a newspaper, a magazine or a book, your child learns that reading is important.
- Always have books. Go to the library every week – it’s free and open to everyone. Bring your children for storytime or have the librarian help your kids choose books about their special interests. Kids get excited when they can choose from hundreds of books. If you can’t get to a library, see if a bookmobile stops near you. Ask your child to bring home books from the school library. Shop at garage sales and encourage books as gifts.
- Make a time and place for reading. The average American child watches an average of three hours of TV a day. It shouldn’t be too hard to find some time every day to read. Many parents find that bedtime is ideal – your child calms down and you have a pleasant experience just before bed.
- Read together. Your child feels special when you are sitting close together reading. Young children can learn to follow the words as you read. As your children learn to read, you can take turns reading pages. If you get in the habit of reading together, you can sit nearby as older children read their own books.
- Make it fun. When your children are young, you can read stories, songs or poems aloud, making different voices for the different people. Ask your child to join in, or make the noises that go with the animals or the action. As your children learn to read for themselves, help them make different voices as they read out loud to you.
- Read all around you. Read everything you see – cereal boxes and T-shirts, road signs and billboards, signs in the grocery store and maps. Help your children see that reading is important in everything you do.
- Help your child become an active reader. As you read together, share ideas and ask questions: What do you think will happen next? Share what you think about the story. Did the character do the right thing? Talking with your children will help them build the listening and speaking skills they need to become good readers. As your children get older, ask questions about what they read on their own. When they tell you the story, they learn to organize and remember the information.
- Make the connections. Talk about how stories relate to your children’s lives. Tell them what you learn when you read. Show them that following instructions in a recipe or following directions to build something can make it easier. Let them see that reading is a tool to help you do anything you want.
- Make it a habit. When you know that your regular reading time will be interrupted by sports or family activities, find another time to read that day. Let your children know how important reading time is to you.
- Don’t stop when your children can read on their own. Children enjoy hearing stories and talking about them long after they can read for themselves. Read aloud from more difficult books, or take turns reading pages. Older children still enjoy being close to you, so read the newspaper as your child reads a book. Encourage teens to read by giving them magazine subscriptions.
- Remember how important it is. Studies show that kids who read just 15 minutes a day see an average of more than a million words a year. If they read an hour, they’ll see four million words. They read words and understand ideas that they will never hear on TV or in conversation. They’ll learn skills they’ll need to understand their schoolbooks. In fact, reading with your kids every day is the most important thing that you can do to help them succeed.