Reading is a lifelong skill that a lot of us take for granted. But for some kids, it’s a daily struggle. Maybe your kids find reading hard, or maybe they just think it’s boring or lame. Either way, if they can learn to have fun when they read and make it a daily habit, they’ll reap many benefits. Kids who enjoy reading tend to do better in school, communicate well, have longer attention spans, and have stronger self-discipline. Here are some tips to take reading time from being a constant struggle, to being something your kids look forward to every day.
1. Play reading games.
When kids are just starting to read, it can really be frustrating to run into a new word or sound and get stuck on it. Even when they’re proficient readers, it can never hurt to make reading into a game for them. It may seem a little counter-intuitive to send your kids to the computer when you want them to read, but there are some really good (and fun) reading games and resources online, like Reading Eggs, and PBS Kids reading games. They’ll be having so much fun playing they won’t realize they’re reading, too!
2. Read aloud.
One of my own fondest childhood memories is my father reading the Harry Potter series out loud to my sister and me. He even made different voices for some of the characters. For me, this was the start of a lifelong love of reading. Set aside a little bit of time – maybe even just 10 minutes – to read aloud to your kids each night before bed. For little kids, a picture book is perfect. Older kids might enjoy hearing a little bit of a chapter book each night, as my sister and I did. Reading will become part of their daily routine, and a cherished part of their childhood.
3. Bring books to life.
If your kids complain that reading is boring, they’re just not reading the right books! If your family is planning a trip to the zoo, find animal books for your kids. If the holidays are coming up, find some interesting holiday books for your kids to read. Really experiencing things they read about will bring reading to life for your kids. Another fun option is to get personalized books with your child’s own name (available at a discount from ISeeMe.com). There’s nothing more exciting than reading a book where you’re the hero!
4. Read together.
Kids like to do what they see adults doing. Set an example by reading every day, and your kids will follow suit. It’s also a good idea to spend time reading together as a family. If your kid is curled up on the couch with a book, grab your book and join her!
5. Read more than just books.
Reading isn’t just about books – comics, magazines, and newspapers are good reading material, too! Introduce your kids to some of your favorite comics (mine is Calvin and Hobbes) and they’ll be hooked on reading in no time. If you like magazines, you might consider getting your kids subscriptions to their own magazines about their interests. There are tons of kid-friendly magazines out there like National Geographic Kids, Cricket, American Girl, and Highlights.
6. Take outings to the library.
Your local library is a great resource – take advantage of it! Let your kids get their own library cards, and making going to the library a weekly or bi-weekly event. They’ll like the sense of responsibility of having their own card, and getting to choose the book they’d like to read. Many libraries also have activities like read-alouds and summer reading clubs. Getting involved with these activities will help your kids enjoy reading not just as a solitary activity, but as a community one.