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How to Instill a Love for Reading in Your Child

Learn how to guide your children to passionately love reading well into adulthood.
Reading to children is the perfect opportunity to instill in them an appreciation for literature without force. This involvement with them when they are in their younger years will be engrained with them as they grow. Story time is a unique time to inspire imagination, foster emerging literacy skills, and plant the seeds for a young child’s lifelong interest in reading and books. Through story time, you help children build vocabulary, develop listening skills, increase attention span, promote oral communication, and teach new concepts and skills. Most importantly, story time is a time for FUN!

The following suggestions were from observations and practices from teachers and parents that have helped their children enjoy reading well into adulthood.

1. Prepare to read the story. Always preview a book before reading it to your children. Take time to choose a story that would be beneficial. It would be distracting and counter-productive if you were stopped in your tracks midway through a story by a violent illustration or an unapproved theme.

2. Get the kids involved. It this story is read before bed-time and you are trying to create a relaxing atmosphere, then you may not want to dress in costumes. Involving kids at bedtime could be as simple as after reading the title and cover asking them what they think the story would be about. Get them to thinking, turn it into a guessing game.

3. Act it out. Give each character a different voice or accent. Be sure to express emotion to keep their interest, such as if something scary is about to happen you could gasp and say "Oh, no!" If the children know the plot and words to the story, allow them to act it out as they recall it.

4. Personalize it. Insert names of children in the story, change names of towns and characters to familiar settings, and allow children to become involved in the story. Discuss how the characters feel so the children can share the characters’ emotions. The more it is related to their lives, the more fun they will think reading is!

5. Imagine the Possibilities. Using the imagination is very stimulating for young children. Closing the eyes creates excitement and allows the imagination to expand. Introduce the story by saying, “I see a,” then set the scenery or give a description such as, “I see a red brick house with no windows. The chimney reaches almost to the sky.” Detail the story with action words.

6. Take time-outs to answer questions. There is no need to rush through a story. By making predictions or asking your child, "What do you think will happen now?" it keeps the children engaged and flexes those reading-comprehension muscles.

7. Keep them in suspense. Stop right before revealing the exciting part. This is a sure way to keep their enthusiasm for the story strong.

8. Have your child do a tell-back. When you are finished (or at any natural breaking point), ask your child to tell you what happened in the story (or what’s happened so far). This is an excellent way to boost reading comprehension – it works for adults, too!

9. Just because the story is over doesn’t mean it has to end! If your child loves a particular book, why not try acting it out? This can be as simple as “You be the caterpillar, and I’ll be all the stuff the caterpillar eats” – or as elaborate as you want, drawing in siblings and friends, making props, costumes, and the whole nine yards. You can also extend the story by drawing, painting, clay-modeling or by imagining what would happen after the book ends.
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