I truly believe that a child’s love and competence in reading is the responsibility of the parents. Of course I am not including dyslexia, but even in these children a love of books can and should be fostered.
Introducing babies as young as 3 months old is ideal. Clearly these will be cloth picture books, apparently the first thing they focus on are faces and eyes. You will find plenty of books with funny mommy’s and daddy faces in the baby section of your local book store.
By the time your child is about a year old a bedtime story should be part of his / her regular bedtime routine. Making this a really loving and entertaining time is essential. sitting with the child on your knee and looking at the pictures even making the grunts and tweets of the animals to make it more fun.
Learning to read
Normally a child will start to learn to read when he starts primary school, but the work you have done before in introducing him to the delights of books, is crucial to the ease with which he will learn. Why would he want to read if he does not know what is in a book.
I was amazed when I heard a primary school teacher saying that quite often in a reception class she had one or two children who had literally never seen a book and did not know what to do with it. They had been plunked in front of a television and left there.
But even when they have started school I believe it is the parents’ responsibility to spend 15 minutes a day listening and helping your child with his reading. Be patient do not make it a chore or involve any punishment for not getting it. Rather enthuse him with the desire to read for himself.
Find out the method that is being taught at his school and use the same method, but rather than getting worried about that the key is to just make it a loving enjoyable experience, preferably first thing in the morning before school when you are all fresh.
Keeping the pre-teen reading
When children get to eight or nine, the enthusiasm for reading can drop off. There are many reasons for this, he may have homework, want to play with his friends, prefer the computer, prefer the television etc.
But this is a time when you can encourage him and here are some simple ways to do this:-
- Do not police his reading (clearly within reason) if he is reading comics, silly books, stuff online, whatever as long as it is child appropriate that is great.
- Many people disapproved of the Harry Potter books, I read all of them and loved them and they certainly got a huge number of children reading because they were exciting.
- Let him read for half an hour in bed, it will settle him and give him comfort as the bedtime story used to.
- Try to make sure he sees you reading. Children with parents who read for pleasure are far more likely to become keen readers.
- Join a library, apart from the cost saving, your children will gain tremendously from going to a library and discovering the facilities they offer. I am always amazed how many very successful people say the library was where they did all their study, it was a safe haven away from maybe a more chaotic home life,.
- Although I love my Kindle I think children should have proper books, feel and turn the pages, look at the picture and keep the books in their bookshelves for rereading pleasure.
Whatever the future hold with regard to technology, being a competent and relaxed reader is probably the most important lifetime skill you can give your child
About the Author Christobel is a grandmother to Eden who is 3 years old and lives in London England. She runs a site for grandparents called grandmas delights and loves reading historical novels.
Earnest Parenting: help for parents who want their kids to love reading.