Developing a reading habit is a crucial component of a child’s educational and personal development. Reading not only improves language and vocabulary but also helps children to develop critical thinking, empathy, and creativity. However, with so many options available, it can be challenging to help your child pick up quality books that will help them develop a love for reading. In this blog post, we’ll discuss some strategies you can use to help your kids pick up quality books and develop reading habits.
Start with their interests
One of the best ways to get your child interested in reading is to find books that align with their interests. Consider their hobbies, passions, and favorite topics, and look for books that relate to these areas. For example, if your child loves animals, consider finding books about different animals, their habitats, and their behaviors. If they enjoy sports, look for books about athletes, sports history, or sports-related fiction.
My girls have all gravitated towards fiction and picture books. My son prefers nonfiction and will spend hours perusing books about sharks and dinosaurs. If you think a child isn’t interested in reading, perhaps you just haven’t found the right book yet. Keep trying!
Start by asking your child about their interests and hobbies. This can give you a better idea of what types of books they might enjoy. If your child has a favorite character from a movie or TV show, look for books that feature that character. This can help them transition from watching TV to reading books.
Look for age-appropriate books
When selecting books for your child, make sure they are appropriate for their age and reading level. Young children may enjoy books with bright illustrations and simple storylines, while older children may prefer books with complex plots and characters. There are great sites online that list the best books. You can find more here to help you pick some options.
Be sure to check the recommended age range on the book’s cover or consult with a librarian to ensure you’re selecting books that are appropriate for your child’s reading level. Another option is to ask fellow moms what their children are reading. My girls have often received book recommendations from friends of theirs and have tried books they wouldn’t otherwise want to read because their friends are reading them.
Graphic novels have also been a huge help for us to bridge the gap between me reading to them and them reading on their own. Graphic novels provide plenty of pictures to draw children into the story, with fewer words than traditional chapter books. Joey (who isn’t yet reading) loves looking through graphic novels on his own. Pearl (who learned to read a couple years ago) still devours graphic novels and is starting to move onto chapter books with pictures.
Consider award-winning books
There are several prestigious awards for children’s literature, such as the Caldecott Medal, Newbery Medal, and Coretta Scott King Award. These awards recognize the best in children’s literature, and books that have won these awards are often high-quality and engaging. Consider introducing your child to books that have won these awards and encourage them to explore other books by the same author.
Award-winning books are typically well-written, with engaging stories, complex characters, and themes that resonate with readers. By choosing award-winning books, you can be assured that you are selecting books that have been recognized for their literary excellence.
Many award-winning books feature positive role models that can inspire children to be kind, courageous, and empathetic. By reading about characters who embody these traits, children can learn valuable life lessons and develop their own character. They can inspire creativity as they often feature unique and creative storytelling techniques, which can inspire children to be more imaginative and creative in their own writing and storytelling.
Listen to audiobooks together
Listening to audiobooks together is another great way to encourage children to read. There are numerous audiobooks available, from short chapter books that can be listened to in 20 minutes to longer series of novels that will take several hours. Many of these audiobooks are read by talented actors and actresses, who can do different voices for the characters to help keep children engaged in the story.
I’ve found that while Pearl (age 7) may not be ready to read, say, Ramona the Pest by herself, she does enjoy listening to the audiobook. Sometimes, after listening to the audiobook, one of the girls has wanted to pick up the novel itself (or its sequel) because she already knows the story.
We listen to audiobooks frequently while we’re in the car. Everyone is strapped into a seat and has little else to do, so we turn on a story, whether we’re going half a hour to the dentist or several hours across the province to visit Grandma.
Visit the library or bookstore
Visiting the library or bookstore is an excellent way to expose your child to a variety of books and help them develop a love for reading. Encourage your child to explore different sections of the library or bookstore and find books that interest them. Many libraries also have reading programs or book clubs for children, which can help to further develop their reading habits.
Libraries and bookstores offer a wide range of books for all ages and interests. From picture books to young adult novels to non-fiction titles, there is something for everyone. By visiting the library or bookstore, you can expose yourself to new genres and authors that you may not have discovered otherwise.
Finally, visiting the library is a cost-effective way to access books without spending a lot of money. Libraries allow you to borrow books for free, which can save you a lot of money over time. Bookstores also offer a range of affordable options, including used books and discounted titles.
Watch the Movie and Read the Book
Another way to interest children in a book is to watch the movie and then read the book. Often the book has more details than the movie, so children who enjoy the movie will enjoy reading the book as they already know the story and can find out more about their favourite people and places in the story. You may want to choose movies that do stay fairly true to the book, as numerous movies have taken huge liberties with books.
This can also be a good way to introduce children to the classics. Young readers who are used to the fast-paced novels of today can find it hard to get into the wordy novels of past decades, such as Charles Dickens or Mark Twain. Watching the movie can help them understand the story so that they have more patience with the books. My teens are currently reading Pride and Prejudice, as we’ve watched the Keira Knightley version of the movies together.
Some places to start for slightly younger children are the movie and book for The Secret Garden, The One and Only Ivan, Ramona and Beezus, and others.
Reading together is a great way to bond with your child and help them develop a love for reading. Consider setting aside time each day to read with your child, whether it’s before bedtime or during the day. You can take turns reading aloud, discuss the plot and characters, and ask your child questions about the book. This can help to make reading a fun and engaging activity for your child and encourage them to continue reading on their own.
In conclusion, helping your child pick up quality books is an essential part of developing a reading habit. By starting with their interests, looking for age-appropriate books, considering award-winning books, visiting the library or bookstore, and reading together, you can help your child develop a love for reading that will benefit them for years to come.