Helping Your Preschooler Love to Read

 

As parents and child educators, we understand that reading is important for children. Early reading and comprehension skills are linked to later success in adult life. Children who have plenty of experiences with books and reading before kindergarten are more likely to be successful readers. But even some of these children struggle with reading. One five-year-old I know is bright and a quick-learner, but he views reading as a chore that doesn’t seem fun at all.

If reading is so essential to our children’s success, what can we do as parents to help our children not only be successful readers but also to really enjoy reading?

According to researchers at the George Lucas Educational Foundation, there are four main ways to help children come to love reading. They are choice, availability, safety and support, and creativity.

    • Choice – The first thing children need so they can enjoy reading is the ability to make the choice about what books they like and will read. If they can pick out a book that interest them, they are much more likely to be excited about reading. James Patterson, a well-known children’s fantasy author, said, “The absolute best way to get most kids reading is to give them books they’re going to love. Honest, it’s that simple…. Listen, really listen when the kids talk to you. They know what they like and what they don’t like. They’ll tell you as long as they believe you hear them.”
    • Availability – Children need to have books, comics, children’s magazines, and other reading material in all the places they often go. It is a good idea to start building a small home library from the time children are only one, even if it’s only a tiny amount.
    • Safety and Support – Many preschools and parents provide a reading space for children that includes comfy child-size chairs or bean bags and pillows, and plenty of stuffed animals for the children to read to. Creating places for reading helps children to want to be there and feel safe and comfortable doing so.
    • Creativity – Parents can help make reading more engaging and help children learn stories and vocabulary through many creative ways. They can ask children to guess what will happen next in a story while reading. Felt boards and paper visuals that go along with stories are often children’s favorites. Ideas from books can be incorporated in the child’s pretend play. Older children can participate in reader’s theater activities and act out stories. Preschool-aged children delight in being able to be the one to tell the story or make their own books with paper and art materials.

Some Additional Ways to Nurture Readers

  • Avoid using reading as a punishment or task to get through before children can do the “fun things. This can be hard when children are not wanting to read, but forcing them will likely lead to them viewing reading as a chore. Instead try to find books that they enjoy and make them available. Help children see that reading is important for multiple daily activities in life and show them that you enjoy it yourself.
  • Share reading experiences with your child. Much research has shown that reading out loud to children yields numerous benefits for them. Children who are read to frequently develop larger vocabularies and tend to hear a wider variety of words. They become more aware of the different sounds in words (phonemic awareness), grammar and syntax patterns, and builds a child’s self-esteem and relationship with their parent. While reading to your child, put a finger under each word as you say it to help them understand the concept of associating spoken words to print. According to Duursma, Augustyn, and Zuckerman (2008), “The age at which parents begin reading to their children is correlated with children’s language development; children who are read to from an early age tend to have higher scores on language measures later on.”
  • Consider developing a routine for reading. Developing certain times of day to always read with your children, such as right before bed or a nap, will help to make sure children are read to every day, and help them to look forward to reading.
  • Allow children to read and write with you in daily routines. Children can help participate in writing and reading grocery lists, recipes, and instructions. They will likely love doing so and feel even more that reading is important and useful.

For more information:

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References:

Duursma, E., Augustyn, M., Zuckerman, B. (Jun 23, 2008). Reading aloud to children: the evidence. Retrieved from: http://www.reachoutandread.org/FileRepository/ReadingAloudtoChildren_ADC_July2008.pdf

Hill, H. (Mar 26, 2015). 37 ways to help kids learn to love reading. Retrieved from: https://www.edutopia.org/discussion/37-ways-help-kids-learn-love-reading

Patterson, J. (2011). 3 SECRETS TO GETTING KIDS TO LOVE READING. Knowledge Quest, 39(4), 78-79. Retrieved from: https://eds.a.ebscohost.com/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=f835b2fa-d849-4bff-9a6d-beb916970bb5%40sessionmgr4010&vid=5&hid=4208

PBS Parents. (2017). Preschooler reading milestones. http://www.pbs.org/parents/education/reading-language/reading-milestones/preschooler-language-development-milestones/preschooler-reading/.

Roth, F. P. (2006). Early reading and writing development. Retrieved from: http://www.getreadytoread.org/early-learning-childhood-basics/early-literacy/early-reading-and-writing-development

Swanson, B. (2001). How can I improve my child’s reading? Retrieved from: http://www.readingrockets.org/article/how-can-i-improve-my-childs-reading

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