Some of my earliest childhood memories are of books. My favorite was The Monster at the End of This Book by Jon Stone. My parents read it to me so often that I had the book memorized, word for word, and I tricked my grandparents into believing I knew how to read by reciting the book as I turned the pages.
When I found out I was pregnant with my son, one of my first thoughts was giving him the love of reading that I’ve always enjoyed. He’s only three now, but books are some of his favorite gifts, and his preschool teachers always comment on how much he loves story time. If you want to foster a love of reading in your child – and you should! – here are some ways to get started.
I started reading to my son the day we brought him home from the hospital. I’d already amassed a small collection of picture and board books. Our nighttime routine has included a book or two (or three or four) since day one. Even at just a few months of age, an infant can look at pictures, listen to your voice, and point to objects on a page. As you draw attention to images, you teach them to associate words with both picture and real-world objects. The rhythm and melody of language becomes a part of a child’s life and makes it easier for them to learn to read.
Reading to your child is an investment in your relationship and their future, but it doesn’t have to cost a lot. In fact, I’ve bought very few of my son’s books new. We have shelves stuffed with books to choose from, and almost everyone was purchased at a thrift store for less than a dollar.
Of course, libraries are free, as long as you return the books on time. If you have friends with kids your child’s age, consider a book swap. Select a few you’ve enjoyed and trade with a friend to enjoy some new titles for free.
Pick Books You Don’t Mind Reading . . . Over and Over Again
Young kids go through periods where they favor one book and want it read night after night. This kind of repetition may be boring for parents, but the story may speak to your child’s interests or emotional needs. I love reading lyrical books with fun language aloud, so I try to select books that I will enjoy.
As we read certain books over and over again, I’ll occasionally ask my son to “help” me read the book by leaving off the last word of a stanza, letting him chime in with the final, rhyming word. It keeps him engaged, improves his language, and is a lot of fun!
Stay With It
Even after a child learns to read on his or her own, continue to read aloud together. This allows you to incorporate stories that are beyond the child’s interest level, stretching understanding and creating motivation to improve reading skills. Don’t go too far above his or her level, though. Although I’m already collecting all of the Harry Potter books to read with my son someday, trying to keep him interested in long chapters without illustrations would be a recipe for disaster. Incorporate books designed for a year or two older than your child and alternate them with shorter, easier books.
Reading aloud with your child requires just a small investment of time and materials, yet the benefits are endless. Your child will learn to read better, think better, have a richer imagination, and hopefully become a passionate lifelong learner. Plus, you’ll get the pleasure of spending quality time together and the enjoyment of a good book.
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This post was written by Janet Berry-Johnson exclusively for BonBon Break Media LLC.
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