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Help Your Child LOVE Reading

Parents and teachers alike are always asking the same question. How do we get kids to like...or even love...reading? With so much entertainment available via devices and TV, it’s hard to get kids interested in the slow joy of diving into a good book, especially if they’re having reading difficulties. But, just because it’s a constant struggle, doesn’t mean we should stop trying! There are many fun, stress-free, and gentle ways to help our children develop a love for books.

Why does a love of reading matter? Kids who love reading and read frequently are more likely to be better at decoding and comprehension. These skills help students be more successful in the classroom and when studying on their own. Kids who read more books are also more likely to learn about different subjects and interests. A love of reading creates a snowball effect that influences all the parts of a child's brain.

So, how do you guide your child to a love of reading? Even if they hate reading right now?

1. Read to them

Contrary to popular belief, kids are never too old to be read to. If your child is struggling with reading, or resistant to doing so in their free time, reading TO them is a great place to start. All the warm fuzzy feelings experienced when sitting down with a loved one and listening to a good book will stay with your child forever. When a child is read to, they’re freed up to imagine the story, share thoughts, and think critically about the problems in the book. Practicing these skills will help your child become a better reader over time.

2. Find books they really enjoy without judgment

The one thing we often see adults do that squashes a child’s love of reading is try to control what they read. It can be so hard to watch your child read comic book after comic book when you would rather them read something more “substantial”. Try to keep your thoughts to yourself as much as possible and keep letting your child read what they enjoy. If you want to get your child interested in something new, try enlisting the help of the children’s librarian at their school or local library. Often librarians can work magic with book suggestions that play off your child’s current reading list and interests.

3. Give them permission to quit a book

It's okay to quit! A lot of kids and adults have the notion that once you start reading a book you must finish it. I love letting kids in on the secret that it’s perfectly acceptable to quit a book you don’t enjoy. They always look so surprised! Life’s too short to read books that leave you bored. If a child feels free to quit a book that isn't catching their interest they will save themselves a lot of bad feelings associated with reading and up their chances of finding the perfect book for them.

4. Discuss books

Consider forming a family book club. Read a book together and then discuss it over dinner or in the car. Talking about a book that your child enjoys will encourage their interest while also helping them improve their understanding of the book. You may also create fond memories in the process!

5. Let them catch you reading

We can't ask kids to do something that we don't do ourselves. If you want your child to develop a love of reading, it’s important that they see you sticking your nose into a book. Try to read out in the open where your child can notice you. Invite them to join you as you quietly read before bed. Place magazines and books around the house that you can pick up and read when you have a spare moment (also place some around for your kids). The more your child sees you read the more they will want to do the same!

Bonus: Quit the reading log if you can

Reading logs are notorious for making kids dread reading. The stress of having to record reading minutes every day can make books feel like a chore. If you’re able, ask your child’s teacher if they can be exempt from the reading log. Or, see if she will let you secretly log your child’s reading habits.

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