How to Raise a Reader

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Affaf Jamal

Affaf Jamal is a freelance writer.

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Vol 2 -Issue 4 How to Raise a readerNot all of us were raised in a house full of books; many of us never began reading early and constantly. Now that we have children of our own, we sometimes worry, whether they will turn out to be good readers.

The best you can do is pave the way for your child to developing love for language and books. The following are a few tips you can follow to improve your child’s interest in reading.

Let your child see you read

There should be role models, who read in the home. Parents, who read, are likely to have children, who read. We should not make the child feel that reading is exclusively a school activity. By setting aside time to read books and letting your child see you read, you subtly inform your child that reading is important.

Share information from your own reading

Children, who read on their own, are not always aware of the informative purpose of the written word. Adults read primarily for information. Prepare your child by sharing information from your own reading. Encourage children to share information from their own reading.

Read aloud

Reading aloud provides time for parents and children to experience the written word together. It focuses your children’s attention on language, providing vital comprehension skills that your children will use in school and beyond. Read with expression, involvement, active questioning, and eye contact. You may read one line and ask the child to read out the next.

Read the newspaper as a family

If you have little time to read to your family, the newspaper can be a lifesaver. Make comments of your own and ask your child to comment from what he has read in the children’s section. Oral commentary encourages children to read actively, and they can retain and appreciate what they read.

Encourage intra-generational reading

Having children read to children benefits the reader, the listener, and you. It teaches children to read with articulation and expression. Hearing their siblings succeed at reading motivates the younger ones to read themselves.

Talk about family members’ reading choices

If you are reading something, talk about it. It does not matter, if your children are too young to read it themselves. It is enough for them to know you enjoy reading, it interests you, and you care enough to share your interests with them.

Act out favorite scenes as a family

Break off after an action packed scene and try on the roles yourselves. Choose a simple scene, assign roles, brainstorm to recall what happened first, second and third in the scene, act it out with movement and dialogue, following with discussion.

Recommend beloved books

Share your enthusiasm for a book with your child. Don’t be disappointed, if your child does not share your passion for a particular author or book. Just the implication that you, also, once were a child with a child’s abilities and interests may open new avenues of communication between you and your child.

Keep reading materials in your home

When reading at home, accessibility is important. Children should not take reading as something that only occurs at school. If you have books at home, you will never have trouble finding a story to read at bedtime. Establish a reference library for school reports.

Take books with you, wherever you go

Children hate to wait (e.g. when the car breaks down). Prepare yourself for emergencies with a variety of distractions. Besides toys and games, books should be a part of your carry on bag. Before you leave the house, have your child select his favorite book or magazine to take.

Invent reading related jobs

You probably have jobs around the house that you don’t feel like doing or have not had the time to do. Children can be lured into taking the chores involving reading. If your telephone directory is worn out, have your child read out the names and phone numbers and write them down in a new book.

Subscribe to children’s magazines

Pride of ownership can make the most unwilling reader eager to turn pages and read. Receiving a magazine in the mail addressed to him or her stimulates a child of any age to want to read. Books are rewards we want them to value. Reward minor accomplishments with a puzzle book, while more significant deeds might merit a picture book.

Introduce your child to series books and books on tape

Once children locate a series they like, they may disappear entirely, only emerging at the end to cry: “Where’s the next one?”

Books on tape exist for children as well as adults. A variety of children’s favorites are available in packages as ‘read alongs.’ The child follows the text as read on the tape.

Make library visits a family routine

The library provides a seemingly limitless resource of reading material, making sure we find something suited to our age and proficiency. Libraries provide a habit of reading that a family can share. At times, your budget may not allow buying books; that is where the library comes in.

Showing your children that you enjoy reading sets an example for them to emulate. Showing that reading is a chore, it is only related to school work, or it is something that must be done to please you, you will be robbing the child the experience of its innate pleasure. You will wind up with children too tense to relax into reading, children, who will never love to read.

How to teach respect for books

  • Remind children to handle books with clean hands.
  • Discourage tearing, folding down pages or coloring and writing in books, especially in library books.
  • Help children design bookmarks and propose they use them, rather than straining bindings by placing open books face down.
  • Work together to repair damaged pages and bindings.

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