How to get kids into reading

If you cant read any further, the biggest takeaway is:

Reading is Play

And if that sounds like completely useless advice, allow me to explain away. Here are some ways I approach reading to my kiddo.

πŸ₯³ Make reading fun

Pick a book that has their favorites. Do they love cats? Great, get them a bunch of cat books ! Do they love rainbows? Rainbows it is!

Don’t fuss about the quality of books. Anything and everything is game. I once read a wedding invitation card to her, and she was all giggles πŸ€·πŸ½β€β™€οΈ

Use a lot of animated movements – hand gestures, sounds, modulate your voice! You don’t have to be a genius at reading aloud, just show enthusiasm πŸ™‚

Choose age appropriate books. Typically this means board books (0-2 yr), picture books (2-8 yr), early readers (4-7 yr), chapter books (6-10 yr).

Yes, some award winning books look great on paper, but wont be to their liking or imagination. Respect their preference and revisit later. Sometimes they will want to read the early readers (hello Mo Willems!)

Let them “help” you. I like to call this the illusion of control, haha. Kids love to be independent, they are their own full human, after all. Let them turn the pages, let them pause and muse, let them point and label objects they see in the book. In their mind, they are playing and they are fully in control of their reading experience.

πŸ“š Reading anytime, anywhere

Reading routines are good, but if they don’t work for you, don’t fret! We sprinkled reading throughout the day. Even if it means for just 5 minutes! Eating a snack? Read a book! Going on a car ride? Bring a book along!

We started bedtime reading only much later. Instead we sang aloud a lot of rhymes (hi cocomelon!) and in our case some Indian classical songs.

We leave small book stacks everywhere. No fancy shelves, no fancy seating or reading nooks. Just books sprawled everywhere (very lazy strategy that works hahaha).

πŸ€ΈπŸ½β€β™€οΈ Reading as an activity

Play “I Spy” (We love The Circus Ship to spot animals!). Read poems, read and sing aloud nursery rhymes!

Play word games – for the entire pandemic year we played “spot the letter” by naming out letters on our pajamas and t-shirts!

Pair books with outdoor activities. We take walks to a nearby lake and she loves spotting pond creatures like ducks, herons etc. and got obsessed with Over and Under the Pond book that explore pond water ecosystems.

Play dress up! She loves trying on hats (hello I Want my Hat back!). Sometimes a basket is a hat, sometimes its a piece of cardboard, and some rare times its really a hat πŸ˜‚

If you allow little screen time, explore video titles based on the books you have read. We loved all the Julia Donaldson adaptations on Amazon Prime – Room on the Broom, Gruffalo, Zog, Stick Man

πŸ‘¨β€πŸ‘©β€πŸ‘§ Reading as a family

For babies and toddlers, reading is really more about physical closeness than anything. They say reading starts on a mother’s lap! When you read aloud to your child, your voice is what connects your child to reading. It’s really a special bond that you are building for a lifetime.

I also like to read a lot myself. In child psychology, this is called “modeling”. Kids do notice a lot of what’s going on in their environments. When they see you read and enjoy, they mimic you, and then they want to be a part of it. I was once digging through Roald Dahl’s Matilda (so nostalgic!) and a few minutes later, I saw her silently pick the same book and sit in the reading chair and turn the pages.

Don’t be afraid to expand their book selections. I include a lot of diverse books, wordless books etc. beyond the popular classics, even if they may be beyond their understanding. You don’t know what will turn them on!

Add books to the collection, that even you would be inclined to read. Remember they will make some favorites and you might just have to read it a million times πŸ˜‚

πŸ’ƒπŸ» Reading with abandon

Don’t force your kids to read.

A number one complaint from parents is: “But my kid just wont sit down to read”. Yes, toddlers specially are wiggly. They want to play, and play a lot! Their attention spans are really low.

When my kid was in this phase, I kept reading aloud, even if she was not really sitting down to read with me. She would dip in and out, and hear from far!

Don’t force reading on tired kids. Catch them in their best mood. Your job as a parent is to make reading a pleasure. Do not, for the love of God, bring out the flash cards for Alphabet. Don’t make it academic.

Don’t obsess about milestones – they should know the alphabet by now? Umm NO. They just need to know the love and pleasure of reading. Knowing the Alphabet will follow, and they will show interest in learning the Alphabet when they are ready.

Sometimes my kid just wants to read the Costco (retailer) magazine. Even if I have an elegantly curated stack of award winning books sitting right beside. Trust me, she just wants to read a Costco, and ogle at all the weird things – a bottle of pills anyone? Some other times it’s our utility bills!

Invite them to read, whatever they want. Your local magazine, bills, newspapers, photos, information brochures etc.

Remember, reading is play. And if you want to raise a reader, be the reader.

Looking for books to start reading to your kid? πŸ‘‰πŸΌ Follow me on Instagram for lightweight book recommendations πŸ™ŒπŸ½

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