If you want to ignite the love of reading in your child, you have to do more than just read the words page after page, book after book. How you read and what you do during the reading determines how much your child gets out of that reading time. So, how do you read so your children will fall in love with books? Here are some suggestions:
1. Engage children in the story whenever opportunity permits. For example, have them join in the chants and rhymes, say repetitive phrases, or fill in the last words. Some stories allow for some acting along such as roaring like a lion or mewing like a cat. Show children that with books they can be active participants rather than just passive listeners.
2. Read with expression. You can use different voices for different characters. Also vary the way you read: loud, soft, sadly, happily, excitedly, scarily etc… according to the text. Let your voice and face bring out the emotions of the words. Spark their imagination by making the story come alive for them.
3. Ask questions. There are several types of questions you could ask:
Just be careful you don’t turn the reading session into a quiz session. Also, don’t ask too many questions or it will disrupt the flow of the story.
4. Enrich the reading with follow up activities and discussion. Think of craft ideas or songs that relate to the story. For example, after reading Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar, you could do a butterfly craft or sing a song about the days of the week. It could be as simple as having your child draw his favorite character or favorite part of the story. How about identifying new words to expand vocabulary. Another idea would be to talk about similar experiences your child may have had. For example, if the story was about going to the doctors, you could remind your child about the time he went to the doctors. Discuss your child’s feelings and views about the story or illustration.
To get more out of a book, here are some finer points to remember:
1. Allow children to handle the book by encouraging them to help turn the pages. Don’t be afraid to let them explore the book on their own before or after you’ve read the story. They may not know how to read yet but they can still enjoy the illustrations. And if they know the story well enough, you might catch them pretending to read, just like you.
2. If you are reading to toddlers, don’t forget to introduce them to the make up of the book. Don’t only read the title of the book but also read the name of the author and illustrator. Show them which is the front of the book, which is the back and where to start reading. Point to the words as you read so they know that reading is done from left to right, and from top to bottom of the page. Of course, all these are absorbed better when done in fun and silliness. For example, attempt to read a book upside down and your child will only be too eager to correct you.
3. Don’t rush through the book. Read slowly and clearly. Create a relaxed atmosphere, free from stress and anxiety. Just for that few moments, free your mind from the 101 chores you have waiting for you.
So, if you want your child to love reading, show them first how enjoyable books can be. Opening book after book and just monotonously reading the words therein will not do much for your child. To get the most out of a book, you need to engage them and draw them into the story. If you can do this, you will heighten your child’s love for books and reading.