As any avid reader knows, books are a joy. Even if you’re no book-lover, encouraging a passion for reading in your child is to give them a gift that lasts a lifetime. It’s never too soon to teach your child to love books.
Children as young as 6 months love looking at books. Babies like the tactile feel of different fabrics so choose cloth books with bright colours and a variety of textures. For your toddler choose chunky board books. Allow her to open and turn the pages herself.
Don’t pressure a young child to listen to a particular story. Let her choose, even if it may not be your favourite book. Toddlers love repetition so you’ll need some patience. Expect the same book to be chosen over and over again as your toddler learns to anticipate the words.
Reading a story is an important part of your child’s bedtime routine, but don’t forget to set aside some story time during the day as well. The sharing of some one-on-one time with your child is just as important as reading the book. Your baby or toddler will begin to associate books with comfort and closeness.
Read with gusto. Children love funny voices, so use your voice to animate the story and bring fictional characters to life. Always make it fun and you will be laying the foundation for a life-long love of reading.
Older children still love being read to and you should make some time in your weekly routine for this. In your own mind, make a distinction between learning to read and learning to love books. Whatever your child’s reading ability, make the enjoyment of the story a priority.
As your child learns to read by herself you can offer a wider selection of books. Don’t forget fact-books. There is a wealth of books on science, history, nature, sport, art, technology and crafts to be devoured by your budding bookworm. Guide her towards a range of books from which to choose.
Provide as many books as you can for your child. This need not be expensive. There are ways to obtain books without having to spend a fortune. Swap books with friends or search yard sales and thrift shops for books in good condition. Use the internet to order used books online.
Teach your child to use the local library. Show her where the various categories are located or how to find her favourite author. As your child develops a love of books, your public library will provide an endless supply of new reading material. Why not read some of the books yourself? What parent hasn’t loved the Harry Potter series as much as a 10 year old?
Keep books in a place where your child can access them easily. This could be in her room or on her own special shelf or bookcase.
Nurture your child’s growing love of books. You’ll know you’re doing a good job when your child shuns the TV in favour of a good read!