We are both avid readers and love getting lost in a good book. We developed this reading habit as children and our relationship with books is something we cherish as adults. As parents, we want to encourage our own children to love reading too but are very aware that there are far more distractions, often digital, than there were when we were children. Are we raising a generation of children who can read but choose not to?
What’s so special about reading? Reading builds language and literacy but that’s not where the benefits end. Studies show that reading for pleasure also has an enormous impact on our children’s emotional and social development. There is a correlation between reading for pleasure and lower levels of stress and depression and children who are still reading for pleasure as teenagers have more academic success than their peers. Reading also boosts imagination, creativity and empathy, skills which are no doubt going to be invaluable in the future workplace.
Want to nurture a lifelong love of reading in your little one? We believe making reading an integral part of your family life is the key and here are our tips for doing just that:
Read aloud to your children
We are never too young or too old to enjoy the experience of someone reading aloud to us. Having a book read aloud to you is magical. We also believe that reading should be a social experience – as keen bookclubbers we know that we get much more out of the reading experience when we talk and think about what we are reading. Our children benefit from this too, so ask questions and talk to them about the books you are reading together.
Don’t save books for bedtime
Make books a daily part of your life – why not keep a few in the car, pop one in your bag or download some audio books to your phone? Ensure they are easily accessible and your heart will skip a beat the first time you discover your little reader quietly absorbed in a book of their own choosing!
Go to the library
They are a wonderful resource not just for borrowing books but for book-related events as well – most libraries offer singing and story sessions that are free to join. Let your child choose the books that take their interest - you can often borrow up to 20 at a time! Once they’re a bit older, taking part in the Summer Reading Challenge is always lots of fun too.
Let them see you reading
Whether it’s a newspaper, a book or even a Kindle, if your children see you reading regularly they will get the message that stopping to read a book is a great way to spend some free time.
Give books as gifts
Why not make giving a book your birthday or Christmas tradition? They also make the perfect present for other people’s children and can be a great party bag filler!
Talk about books
We’re certainly not encouraging you to quiz your children - it’s all about opening discussions and thinking a bit more deeply about what you’ve read. They will no doubt be interested to hear what you’ve been reading. When you meet other families, why not ask what they’ve been reading or share your own recommendations?
Connecting the books you’ve read together to your child’s own experiences will really help them to think more deeply about what they’re reading. You might do similar activities to the main character in a book or ask how you think one of the main characters would react to a problem you’re facing. What about planning day trips that can be linked to books you’ve read? Check out some of our suggestions here.
We believe our book subscription is a great tool to help nurture a love of reading in families. Find out more about how it works here.
This article first appeared as a guest blog post on Toddler Fun Learning.