5 Tips to Help Your Child with Reading

Posted on: 22.04.2015.

Author: Ana G

''Reading'' by ThomasLife is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Instilling a life-long love of reading in your child begins with you. While schools help develop and strengthen reading skills, you can't expect teachers to make your child enthusiastic about reading. Like so many other things, parents play a crucial role in developing these skills in their kids, and it's never too soon to start. Even infants benefit enormously from being read to by their parents. Without taking steps to help your child with reading, they may turn up their nose at it throughout their grade-school years. Kids tend to prefer video games and other activities, of course, but there's still plenty of room in their lives for reading too.

The primary and most obvious benefit of reading is being able to get around in the world. That's just the tip of the iceberg, though. The Rose Review, an Independent Review of the Primary School Curriculum (2008), argues that:A deep engagement with storytelling and great literature link directly to emotional development in primary children.”

The benefits of instilling a love of reading in a child are considerable and include:

  • Expanding vocabulary, as kids have a chance to learn new words
  • Improving writing and comprehension skills
  • Enhancing critical thinking, as kids learn how to solve the problems
  • Teaching patience and discipline, as reading a book takes time
  • Bolstering overall academic performance, as kids who read more often perform better in school
  • Boosting self-esteem and improving communication skills
  • Encouraging active imagination, as kids envision different places, cultures and people
  • Strengthening bond with parents, as reading is no longer seen as a forced activity, but a nurturing one that brings the parents and kids closer together.

 1. Read Aloud and Often


''mom reads 1'' by popofatticus is licensed under CC BY 2.0

It's never too early to start reading aloud to your child. Making it an everyday activity - reading for 20 to 30 minutes every night before bed, for instance - is one of the best ways to impart key reading skills in your little one, and it also lays the foundation for a life-long love of reading. Reading aloud helps to increase a child's knowledge of words and improves their understanding of written language, and those benefits begin from day one.

As your child moves into becoming an independent reader, keep reading aloud to them, but start letting them read to you too. Follow along together, and take turns reading different sections or passages. Take steps to help your child master new words by deliberately not saying a word and prompting your child to sound it out. Another great strategy is to deliberately say the wrong word to see if your child catches your mistake. Being by your child's side as they learn to read is one of the best ways to boost their overall confidence with reading, so keep at it as long as possible.

2. Spark an Early Interest in Reading

''Jack Reading Baby 411'' by jinglejammer is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

There's a lot you can do to raise a reader. Simply making reading a priority in your home will help considerably. The Common Sense Media report explains that: “Parents can encourage reading by keeping print books in the home, reading themselves, and setting aside time daily for their children to read.”

Ensure that your child always has access to new and interesting reading materials by getting them a library card as soon as possible. Make weekly trips to the public library, and set aside plenty of time to allow your child to explore the rows and rows of books. Take advantage of summertime reading programs at the library to make it a year-round affair, and consider joining a book club to keep your child actively interested in reading for fun.

Start building a home library too, so your child always has access to a variety of books without having to go to the library. Make a point of sitting down and discussing books your child is reading. Ask them about various aspects of the book, including the plot and characters. Find ways to help your child relate to the plot of a book to help them connect with it more deeply.

If you have a reluctant reader on your hands, keep trying. Eventually, you'll find a book or series of books that engages your child effectively. Also, don't overwhelm a reluctant reader. Reading one chapter or section at a time will keep your child from feeling backed into a corner about reading.

3. Make Reading Fun and Enjoyable

''discovery'' by David D is licensed under CC BY 2.0

When a child finds reading fun and enjoyable, they're more likely to want to do it voluntarily. As a parent, you can do many things to make reading an enjoyable experience for your little one. Keeping your child's interests in mind, zero in on books that align with them. Children like familiarity, so seek out age-appropriate book series. Your child will love following the same characters' adventures from one book to the next. If you get stumped when looking for books that will interest your child, check with a children's librarian or a local bookseller.

Your child will enjoy reading more when they're able to focus on it easily. Set up a reading-friendly environment for your child that's away from TV and other distractions. Whether you place a cushy beanbag chair in a corner or convert a closet or window area into a cozy nook, make sure there's good seating and lighting, and consider keeping a few of your child's favorite stuffed animals nearby. Also, be sure a bookcase is within easy reach. Stock it with a variety of reading materials, including magazines. Also, investigate reading apps and load your child's favorite onto their tablet or smartphone.

4. Promote Reading Skills

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Take steps to promote and perfect your child's reading skills. There are lots of ways to do this, but library reading programs are a great start. Make sure the books you keep in the home are right around your child's current reading level to keep frustration at bay. Look for opportunities to discuss various aspects of books with your child. For instance, have them read a book, listen to the same one in audio form and compare the two. Similarly, after finishing a book, have your child watch the movie version and ask them what they liked about each and whether they noticed any differences between the two.

Make reading a more interactive experience by talking about it with your child. As you read a book together, ask your child what they think will happen next or who their favorite characters are and why. Help improve your child's spelling skills by choosing a few books that are slightly above their reading level but still within their interest level. As they encounter new words, look up definitions in the dictionary together and encourage your child to use the new words in their own sentences. Later, when you child encounters these new words out in the world, they'll recognize them. This will boost their confidence and make them excited about learning even more.

5. Be a Role Model

''137 - Look up!'' by David D is licensed under CC BY 2.0

All too often, parents underestimate the powerful influence of the examples they set. You can't expect your child to love reading if you never read yourself, so make a point of letting your child see you sitting and enjoying a good book from time to time. If you're not an avid book reader, try other reading materials. Set up family reading times - one or two per week should suffice - and sit down and enjoy books together. While out and about, point out signs, menus and other printed things and read them aloud together.

As with anything else, don't force your child to read. Keep in mind that a gentle approach is always best. If your child feels too pressured about reading, they could start associating with bad feelings and will be even less willing to do it. Some kids are late bloomers when it comes to embracing reading, so be patient and give your child the opportunity to start loving reading on their own.

While much of the work is done at home, school will still play a huge role in your child's path toward becoming a life-long reader. With that in mind, stay on top of your child's progress with reading in school. Keep your eyes peeled for potential reading problems. Is your child able to sound out words that their peers can? Does your child seem to be on the same level with their peers in terms of knowing sight words? What about context - can your child figure out the meaning of a word based on how it's used in a sentence? If you start noticing possible red flags, schedule a meeting with your child's teacher. By working together, you and the teacher should be able to nip potential issues in the bud. Also, it's far better to become aware of an issue when your child is still young than to discover it far later in their education.

Give Your Child a Special Gift: A Passion for Reading

''Caught Reading'' by John Morgan is licensed under CC BY 2.0

It doesn't matter if your child is already in grade school or still in diapers. Kids are never too young to start developing a passion for reading, and parents play a critical role in the process. Shift away from the mentality that reading is reserved for school, and start seeing reading as an activity that starts at home, and something that is shared by everyone in the family. The best thing you can do is to be a positive role model and to actively work with your child to develop a love of reading. Slowly but surely, that love will grow, and your child will reap its rewards for the rest of their life.