All moms know the importance of reading to children and by children, but how do you get a child to fall in love with reading? How do you foster an environment where you routinely catch your child with a new book under their covers with a flashlight after they were put to bed? How does a child get to the point where they cannot WAIT to finish the story and find out what happens next? By implementing these steps with your toddler sooner than later:
- Read yourself. Some of the earliest memories your child will have are the actions and events they see over and over. Getting them interested in reading begins with you reading. Take time every day to read something: a newspaper, a magazine, a book, even a recipe. Kids always begin to emulate their parents early, so let them emulate you reading!
- Read to your toddler…A LOT! I know they have short attention spans, but short books and picture books are a good place to start. Let them help turn the pages and point to objects they see. While in the doctor’s office, show them pictures of dogs or kids in the magazines. If they climb up in your lap while you are studying or reading, tell them about what you are reading.
- Act out the story. Sure, this sounds a bit daunting, but have fun with the stories! If you have other creative children in the house, make it a family affair. Take a simple story like Hop on Pop and have them act it out. Bring out stuffed animals to emphasize points in the story like the fox or mouse. Changing your voice for different characters keeps your toddler’s attention, but also your own. Remember: Anything to make the sixty-ninth retelling of that story interesting.
- Read when asked and be excited about it. Children can always tell when you don’t want to do something. But if their request is met with enthusiasm, they will be more likely to ask again. So always be excited to read with your child. First, pick up your child. Let them know you saw them and heard their request. If you are in the middle of something, read them the story when the task is done. If it is a lengthy task, take a break and relax with them. Or have a sibling read to them.
How have you fostered a love for reading in your home?