15 Impactful Ways to Develop Your Child’s Reading Habit
Instilling in our children the love for reading is a goal that almost all parents have on their checklist of things to accomplish to be considered a “successful” parent. This is particularly true after New Year, since building a reading habit often ends up on New Year’s resolution lists.
Regardless of the time of year, or the age of your kids, there is no better time than the present to help them develop a reading habit. Kids who love to read, or at least read on a regular basis, have a significant advantage over kids who do not develop this life-altering skill. We have assembled over 10 easy-to-apply and impactful ways to help your child build a reading habit.
Why Some Kids Hate Reading
It's always helpful when your kids enjoy the activities that you are trying to help them develop into habits, but it isn’t always the case. Reading, because it is challenging and because there are many other ways to be entertained, can sometimes have kids wishing they were doing something else.
They may say things like…
“I can’t concentrate while I am reading!”
“Reading is boring!”
“I have a hard time reading!”
“I don’t like this book!”
Even though your kids may say that they hate reading for any number of reasons, there is extreme value in helping them develop this habit. Regardless of their excuses or their complaints, it's worth the effort to grow these skills.
Why Reading Is Important
The way humans ensure that the hard-won knowledge of the past is saved for the future is by writing it down. Reading is important for so many reasons that it's hard to choose the most relevant. For kids, it helps them understand the world and their environment, as well as helps them to grow. What does that look like in the real world?
Increased Attention Span
A reading habit forces children to sit and focus for a period, putting all of their efforts into reading in some form or another. This is good for the kids in two ways. First, they are learning how to read and will reap those benefits for the rest of their lives. Second, they are growing their attention span. A child’s attention span is like a muscle and the more that they use it, the stronger it gets.
A child’s vocabulary is a combination of what they hear the people around them speak (and the media that they hear) and the words from the books they read… and that’s it. By exposing your children to books that have a wide range of words, you are helping them grow their vocabulary. Certain books, like the Fancy Nancy collection, go out of their way to use what they call “fancy” words, which are really just synonyms for common words, to specifically grow the vocabulary of their readers. Bilingual books are another way to help your children grow their vocabulary.
Easier Adaptation to School Life
Kids will be reading in school and by developing a habit of reading at home, you are preparing them for school life. If your child does not ever sit and read at home, they will have a hard time if their teachers are asking them to sit and do 15 minutes of uninterrupted reading.
Books as Storage of Knowledge
Want to learn a new skill? You can learn how to do that from books! Using books to teach kids new skills such as making paper airplanes or building an outside fort will show them that books are one of the best ways to absorb new knowledge.
Kids are infectiously curious and love exploring the world. By having them read books that they are interested in and learning things that they are excited about, you are fanning the flames of curiosity. Do they love insects? Have them read a book about where and how to spot them in the wild and then go and have an insect-finding adventure! Those memories will fan the flames of curiosity and reading for years to come.
Reading Has Competition
Unfortunately, reading has competition, lots of it. In the digital world of streaming and video games, reading can take a backseat to these distractions if parents aren’t making a conscious effort to keep reading at the forefront.
Tablets, video games, television and movies are all easier, faster, and more stimulating (at least on the surface) than reading. They can also be a tempting option for parents if they need a few quiet moments to get something done because the television or tablet keeps kids quiet much more efficiently than a book does.
Nobody can encourage kids to read more better than their own parents, and that's why it’s important that parents be persistent if they want their kids to develop solid reading habits.
How to Develop a Reading Habit
Research currently indicates it takes 66 days to create a habit that will stick. That means that parents have a goalpost to shoot for. To develop a consistent habit of reading, parents and kids will have to explore stories, fact books, board books and more for a least 66 days to develop a habit. Maintaining this habit will require effort but not nearly as much as it did to create it. What can you do to help your kids develop this habit?
Be a Role Model
Role models lead by example. That means that, as a parent, you can shut off your TV or screens, put away your phone and sit down with a book. Kids see this and assume that if their parents are willing to take some of their precious time and spend it reading, it must be a valuable activity.
A little bit every day will always accomplish more than a lot all at once. This works in the gym, for learning an instrument and for learning almost any other skill, including reading. Take the time to sit with your kids and read to them, or with them, every single day, ideally at the same time. If you do this, your kids will become accustomed to daily reading time and learn to be excited about it.
Read in Front of Your Child
Kids do as they see and if their parents are avid readers, there's a good chance that they will also have a strong appetite to read.
Create a Reading Nook
When there's a specific place to do a specific thing, that thing is more likely to get done. On top of that, it's helpful when building a habit to associate that activity with comfortable and enjoyable feelings. A reading nook does that by creating a comfortable and inviting space that is set aside specifically for reading time.
Let the Child Choose their Reading
73% of kids say that they would read more if they could find books that they liked. Of course, if this is true, then as parents the best thing to do is to ask our kids what they want to read! If they choose their reading materials and are excited about it, they are more likely to continue reading.
Go to the Library Together
Adventures are one of the best ways to get kids excited about anything and going to the library is always an adventure. Fun activities, endless supplies of books and other people in the same space will take reading to another level for almost any kid.
Create a Bedtime Reading Routine
This is not only a great way to help kids build a reading routine, but it's also a fantastic way to help kids relax before bed. Hanging out with one or more parents and siblings for a little reading time is exactly what the sleep doctor ordered!
When parents hear technology, they often go right to tablets and video games. That’s not what we mean! Using technology to enhance the reading experience is something that Cali’s Books has done a great job of. Their toddler books combine reading a great story with illustrations and sounds making reading their content more like a full-scale activity than simple reading.
Discuss Reading Materials with your Child
Reading the material is often not enough to get it to stick. Discussing it after the fact with your kids is helpful for two reasons. One, you can see how much they absorbed and help them with that information. Two, it will help you understand if they are excited about that particular topic.
Re-read Favorite Books
Kids can tell when a parent is excited about what they are reading and that excitement is contagious. Re-reading your old favorites to your kids builds memories with them and they can see how a great book or story can bring so much joy to someone they love, which is a great motivator to continue reading.
Try New Genres
Variety is the spice of life and new genres are an interesting way to make the reading journey more exciting for everyone. Perhaps you will find a genre that your kids like that you never expected! That benefits both you as a parent (because your kids will want to continue reading those stories) and the kids (by reinforcing the value of reading).
Glorify the Book Time
This is the parents’ job. Make book time a special and sacred time that you go out of your way to make happen. By placing a high level of importance on your book time, kids will also begin to place value on it, without even knowing why.
Get Book Recommendations
One of the biggest resources you have as a parent is other parents. Use them! Get book recommendations from them and see what they are reading with their kids. They may have found the perfect book, character, illustrations, or series to help their kids build that routine and that may be exactly what you need to find your kids a new favorite book.
Where to Start
The most important thing for babies is making things fun! Use sound books and interactive playbooks for kids this age.
Early learners love melodies, colorful illustrations, and opportunities to sing. This age group is helped by animals and fun stories to increase their curiosity about reading.
Including melody and rhythm in the learning process is especially helpful for kids this age. Books that include buttons also grow their motor skills, making interactive books a great choice.
Longer stories with more complex storylines are great for kids this age, particularly if they can take part in the reading process.
Fairy tales, combined with music and interactive pages are all important as your kids get older. They will have more focus and a better understanding of the material so you can upgrade the content you are reading to them.
Make It Fun
Kids love having fun. Reading should be associated with excitement, adventure and wonder. As a parent, it is your job to create the atmosphere that will ensure kids want to continue to read and grow.
Reading Habits Will Shape Your Child’s Future
Your children deserve to be the happiest, most fulfilled, and most successful children they can be. To ensure this, help them develop a reading habit that will stick with them into the future, where it will serve them for years to come.
Hi! I'm Cali, Founder of Cali's Books
“I’ve loved books since childhood and wanted to transmit this enthusiasm to my children”
I'm a mom of two young children who trained as an engineer and worked in investment banking and at Disney. A French of Caribbean origin (Martinique to be precise!), I grew up in Paris. Los Angeles is now the place I call home!
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