If you’re like most parents, you want your child to be happy, healthy, and to do well in school — and this means providing a foundation for good lifelong habits. Reading is one of the habits you should work to develop in your child for a variety of reasons. Research shows that reading on a regular basis has both physical and mental health benefits. In general, those who read experience less stress, have a better vocabulary, and even live longer than their counterparts who don’t make a regular practice of reading.
Fortunately, it isn’t difficult to help a child develop an interest in reading. Here’s what you need to do.
Read With Your Child Every Day
A child’s interest in reading starts to develop before the child actually learns to read. Parents who make a practice of reading to their children every night spark that interest at any early age. Choose books with pictures and fun stories. Although many parents read to their child right before bedtime, reading is an appropriate activity for any time of day. No matter what time you choose, making it something to look forward to helps your child create positive associations.
Enroll Your Child in a Library Reading Group
Nearly every public library has a reading group for young children. Some have several that are separated according to age. There are some library reading groups that meet every day, while others meet once or twice per week. Find the one that works for your schedule and your child’s age and make it part of your routine. You can also enroll school-age children in summer reading programs.
Make Reading Materials Easily Accessible
As your child grows older, always make sure he or she has access to plenty of reading materials. You can get free library books from public libraries as well as the library at your child’s school. Swapping books with other parents is another good way to provide your child with a diverse supply of reading material.
Set a Good Example
Children naturally want to emulate their parents. If your child sees you reading on a regular basis, he or she will most likely follow your example. Discussing the books you are reading with your child will spark their interest and imagination. As your children get older and are capable of reading books on their own, consider setting up a family reading time, where everyone reads silently for 30 minutes.
Above all, don’t despair if your child is among those who don’t take to reading right away. Some children just learn more quickly than others, but slower learners invariably catch up at some point. Avoid making children feel bad if they aren’t reading at the same level as others — this may cause them to resent reading, which they may later transfer to learning in general.