Let’s talk about how to raise preschoolers who love books and reading.
My husband and I recently had a discussion with friends about raising kids who love to read. In an age of distraction, screens, and growing illiteracy, how to do we go against the grain and raise kids who become great readers?
We concluded, even before you crack open the alphabet charts, readers, and phonics cards, there are a few lifestyle things that can really set your kids up for a lifetime love of reading.
11 Ways to Raise Preschoolers Who Love Books
1. Make Reading Relational. When the first experiences of reading for a child are cuddled up with someone they love. Reading feels enjoyable, familiar, and safe.
Our family likes to read together. It doesn’t matter if its a book about nature, or a Bible devotional, we all sit around while my husband and I take turns reading out loud. Usually, the kids will do something quiet with their hands like coloring or playing with legos. Creating this atmosphere of togetherness, helps to build a pleasant association with the reading experience.
2. Have a routine for reading. Kids need to know that reading is part of everyday life. Have a specific time that you all meet together with a pile of books and read. Not only does this allow for so many learning opportunities, it develops your child’s attention span.
When you are first building a routine, I recommend starting with one or two short books and adding from there. This gives your child time to adjust to longer periods of sitting.
“I am part of everything I have ever read.” -Theodore Roosevelt
3. Let them hold the book and turn the pages. Kid’s are very hands on. Let them discover what it feels like to go through a book. Furthermore, talk about which direction to turn the pages and encourage them to point out the front and the back of the book. See if they can find the title or navigate the page numbers.
You don’t have to do all of this every time, but a little here and there, really teaches kids to feel comfortable with finding their way around books.
4. Re-read the same books. Kids love familiarity. Let them make friends with their favorite books. A lot of times, kids will memorize the words for each page, and even begin to recognize specific words simply because they have seen them so many times.
When I am teaching my kids to read, we practice the same stories over and over. This is also a great way to build vocabulary and teach sight words.
5. Point out words in every day life. Encourage kids to find words in their world: signs around town, home decor, and food packaging are all great places to start.
This is a wonderful activity to turn into an ongoing family game. Then, when you are at home reading, help them to recall those words and recognize them in the pages of their books.
“There are many ways to enlarge a child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.” -Jacqueline Kennedy
6. Talk about what you read. Get accustomed to talking about books, even with your little kids. Discuss what they saw in the illustrations, how the story made them feel, or even have them tell the story back to you in their own words.
7. Read with inflection and emotion. Kids love enthusiasm and fun. When you read with big inflection kids will instantly be interested in what is going to happen next!
When our kids were little, one of their favorite books was the Monster at the End of This Book. While it is a fairly simple read, they were enamored with my husband’s dramatization. I’ll admit, it even hooked me.
When they hear you read expressively it will be much easier when it is their turn to learn to read with inflection.
8. Read poetry with rhyme. There are so many wonderful poetry books for kids. When my kids were young, I made sure I chose ones that had bright colorful pictures and we re-read them over and over till they became familiar friends.
Some of the main benefits of reading poetry to kids is that they learn what rhyme and inflection are supposed to sound like before they are asked to do it themselves.
“A book is like a garden, carried in the pocket.” -Chinese Proverb
9. Have your kids point out specific letters, or words. Start with simple letter recognition. See if they can find an uppercase ‘A’ or a lowercase ‘d’. Then graduate to sight words, or letter sounds. This exercise gets them looking at the words, as well as, the pictures.
10. Set an example of reading. If you make time for reading and your kids see that you take pleasure in it, it will be natural for them to do the same. Because it is modeled, they will take their cues from you and will more than likely, follow suit.
11. Turn off the Screens. Reading is a slow, skilled process and minds that are constantly bombarded with noise, motion, and distraction will find it much more difficult to have the patience to sit in the quiet and apply themselves to focus.
Create an atmosphere where kids can experience the old pastime of boredom. Inevitably, you will see them using their imagination and seeking entertainment on the pages of a book.
- Things Your Preschoolers Can Learn at Home
- Benefits of Reading Aloud to Your Kids
- Printable Preschool Learning Folder
- 10 Best Picture Book Treasuries for Kids
- Literacy and the Benefits of Poetry
- What is a Living Book?
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