Raising readers starts long before babies can read. Get started today:
- Talk talk talk. Talk with your baby a lot, even before she is able to speak. Because children learn to speak by copying the language they hear, they need talkative role models.
- Read to your baby every day. Starting a tradition of reading right away make it more likely to last through childhood. By reading to your child, they start associating reading with fun and togetherness.
- Keep the stories short. Don't force your baby or child to sit and listen to an entire book after they have lost interest.
- Let your baby take the lead. He may prefer to read the same page over and over again or flip the book over and chew on the pages. No problem. Remember the goal is to have fun. Board books can take a lot of wear and tear.
- Don't shy away from poetry. Rhyming and rhythm are great for babies and children.
- Be a ham. Read with excitement and expression. Use different voices and sound effects and don't hesitate to act our stories. Being silly is part of the fun of parenting.
- Editorialize. Books for babies don't have a lot of words. Feel free to embellish, expand, and relate the stories to real life even if they aren't talking yet. "There is a doggy in this picture! What does a doggy say? Woof woof! Our doggy is black and white."
- Make it interactive. If you ask a baby a question, remember that any sound she makes is a great answer!
As your kids get older, keep on reading! Try these tips too:
- Create a reading environment. Keep library books, magazines, and other reading material around. Reposition your TV so that it isn't the center of the room.
- Continue to read out loud. Reading chapter books out loud to your growing children can be a ton of fun.
- Build on your child's interests. Notice what captures your child's attention. Choose other reading materials that relate to it.
- Play games that are reading related. Ask your child to read the instructions for a board game or hide notes throughout the house. Reading doesn't only happen with books!
- Be a good role model. Let your kids see how much you value reading by doing it yourself.
- Make reading a family activity. Make stories a bedtime activity at the end of the day.
- Record your child's story. Make your own book by inviting your child to tell a story about herself while you write it down. Let her illustrate the story and read it out loud!
- Choose other media that support reading. Choose video games and shows that incorporate reading skills and problem solving.
For more tips for teens read our post Books, Blogs, and Teens: Encouraging Reading in Adolescence.