There are few children’s books as beloved as the ones written by Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss. It was only fair that the National Education Association chose his birthday, on March 2nd, as the National Read Across America Day to encourage reading amongst young children and promote literacy. Since 1998, libraries, schools and communities organize events on this day to promote the joys of reading, from book fairs to reading marathons and contests.
Dr. Seuss was one of the first to realize how important it is for kids in the process of learning how to read to have access to fun and easy to read books. With the "Cat in The Hat," he revolutionized the way children books were written until the late 1950s. He changed the repetitive, and often boring storylines that were common at the time and turned them into imaginative poems, all the while using a limited vocabulary focusing on words easy to recognize for first-graders to encourage kids to keep reading right from the start.
Nowadays, helping kids to learn how to read and to enjoy it can still be a challenge with the competition of electronic distractions. However, we have gathered some tips that will help your budding reader turn into a bona fide bookworm.
1. Surround your child with books
A child who is used to see books everywhere will naturally be drawn to them. Keep books in every room of your house rather than a single spot so they can easily be accessible. Display them in an attractive way to pick your kid’s curiosity. A can do wonders to remind youngsters that books can be equally entertaining.
Always keep books with you and don’t hesitate to offer them in situations you would otherwise be using toys or electronics. They make wonderful companions on a long ride in the car or while waiting at the doctor’s office.
Libraries are a great place to hang out, not only to pick a book to borrow, but many of them also organize countless activities like age-appropriate craft sessions or story time that will remind your children that reading is fun.
2. Lead by example
Children are little sponges and imitate everything they see. If you are an avid reader yourself, they will reproduce your behavior. Carving time for reading in a busy schedule can be tough, but it is worth it in the long run. Curl up on the couch or in your reading nook with your child to read your own book, and he or she will probably follow.
Reading aloud or with an audiobook also encourages reading. If your child is intimidated, have him or her read to a younger sibling, a pet, or even a favorite stuffed animal.
3. Pick books that fit your child's interest.
Although it can be tempting to introduce your children to your old personal favorites, let them take the lead when it comes to picking a new book to read at the library or the bookstore. Whether they are into dinosaurs, sports or fairytales, there is plenty of material to choose from even if it might not be your first choice. Show interest in their decision by asking them questions about their favorite things.
Keep it light and fun, and make sure that the books they pick match their reading level or even below. There is nothing more disheartening for a novice reader who might already be struggling with reading in general than to get discouraged by a book too advanced for his or her skills.
4. Think outside the box (or the book)
Books are the first tool that comes to mind when it comes to helping kids to read, but any written material will help your child build his or her abilities. Don't discourage them from picking a comic book or a magazine instead if they feel too intimidated by a full-length novel.
Reluctant readers can still work on their skills by exercising them on everyday information: from restaurant menus to shopping lists, board game rules, road signs or recipes, there is something to read everywhere.
5. Don't make reading a chore
Keep reading fun! If your child is not interested in books and gets antsy during story time, encourage them to act the tale with finger puppets or set up a play while you are reading it. Get them involved by using stories as a prompt for activities or visit locations concerning books you have read as a family.
Books can also be a starting point to games, from reading challenges that encourage kids to read a certain number of books to win a prize to scavenger hunts that use books as hints for a final award.