When I was a tot, my parents promised to get a TV only once I was an avid and capable reader. This is probably why I have no siblings – my parents were far too busy teaching me to read. So, at the tender age of 7, I was voraciously reading whatever I could get my hands on. Even when the TV arrived, I would often favour Nancy Drew, Asterix and James Herriot over KTV or Kideo. Now, I’m a writer. My parents got it right! If they wanted a writer, that is.
Reading is about more than keeping your children busy. It’s about imagination, stimulation, exploration, learning and growing. A child that reads is a child that thinks.
Katie is just learning to read and the process is tough. It’s making sense of hieroglyphics and trying to get excited about it. But, it has already started to pay off, and she feels so chuffed with herself when she gets it right. Mommy may need some counselling in patience, but Katie is doing just fine 😉
Here are some ways to get your child to read and to enjoy it:
- Set the example and read. Share funny or interesting things from your book or magazine with your little ones, piquing a curiosity in them.
- Make a habit of reading with them (not to them) every night. This is calming, and encourages them to end their day with a book, instead of with the iPad or tablet. It’s also time spent together, giving them positive associations with reading.
- If possible, turn the captions / subtitles on when they are watching their favourite movie. Kids learn the words off by heart. Having the visual to complement the audio is a major part of reading development.
- Make sure that your child has plenty of books available to them. When they are bored, suggest that they read one of these, rather than switching the television on. Creating a little library area for them is a great way to get them excited and make them feel that reading is both personal and important.
- Play fun literacy games. But, really, make them fun. This can be done on car trips or around the dinner table.
- Turf (that is, donate) books that your child finds boring, so that they don’t feel that reading is a generally boring thing to do.
- Make a visit to the library fun. Include ice-cream, if necessary. A child should feel, smell and choose books; not only download them.
- Include comic books like Asterix or Calvin & Hobbes in your child’s library. Humour and light-hearted fun is a fantastic way to get your child to enjoy reading.
- Limit their access to technology. From our own experience, we know that hours and hours can fly by while we scroll through Instagram or trawl Facebook. Developing young minds and fine motor skills don’t need these kinds of distractions. They need books. Words. Ideas. Story lines. Plots. Characters. They do.