There are many ways you as a parent can support your child’s growing literacy. Here are some strategies you can use with your family to help your kids see themselves as readers.
Read every single day.
You can start when your children are infants. Create special times of day that are just for reading aloud. Right before bed, when the child wakes up from a nap. Try to make these times as cozy and enjoyable as possible.
Make it a family expectation that your child can ask you for a story at any time. As much as is humanly possible, try to make it a point to drop what you are doing and read when they are in the mood.
Have good picture books on hand.
Children love to look through books even before they can read independently. Make sure you have copies of the books you remember fondly from your childhood. Your delight will be contagious. If you need a few good titles for starters check out:
Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina
Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey
Bedtime for Frances by Russell Hoban
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown
Give books as gifts.
Encourage friends and family to give books (or gift certificates to a bookstore) instead of toys on birthdays and holidays. Much better than those noisy toys with flashing lights that are forever running out of batteries!
Stash books all throughout your house.
Keep a stack of books in the living room. Give your children their very own book shelves in their room to stow their favorites. Put a book basket in the bathroom to help with potty training while promoting literacy. Have a few books that you keep in the car and rotate out periodically.
Make a weekly trip to the library part of your family rhythm.
Participate in a story hour. Play some games or do some crafts. Make an outing of it. Check out heaps and heaps of books. Try to remember to bring them back. Don’t worry too much about the library fines. You are investing in your child’s future literacy.
Get your child their own library card as soon as they are eligible.
This will provide them with greater ownership of their reading life and is a wonderful opportunity to teach responsibility.
Take advantage of audio books.
Listen to audio books in the car. Listen to audio books when your child is resting or playing in their room. Listen to audio books when you are too tired to read another syllable out loud. Don’t be afraid to put on a chapter book or another title that is well-beyond your child’s reading level. You’ll be surprised at the challenging content they can understand and assimilate through audio books.
Read books connected to favorite films.
Many children’s movies are based on books. If your child is interested in seeing a film, have them read the book first or read it together as a family. This can be a great way to inspire reluctant readers. Once you’ve watched the movie you’ll have a great topic of conversation to discuss together.
Think about giving your children a monthly book allowance.
Whether it’s $5 a month to spend at the used bookstore or $15 a month to shop new, allocating some of the family budget towards books shows your kids that reading has value.
Read in front of your kids.
Many things are better “caught” than taught, and a love of reading is one of them. When your kids catch you relaxing with a book in the evening, or chatting with a friend about a new book you’re excited to read, or asking the librarian a question about your own reading life, they get the message that reading isn’t just a subject to be mastered, but an enjoyable pastime in its own right.