Raising Your Child to Be a Reader

Has there been a time in your life that a child has come up to you and said, “read to me”? What did you do with this small plea? Did you stop to read or did you brush off the task because there isn’t even enough time in your day to do the things that have to get done let alone any time for leisure?

Many people do not feel as if they have enough time in the day to stop and read to a child, but did you know that most children’s books take less than 10 minutes to read? Ten minutes and you can bond with your child, educate them, and entertain them.

Here is what 10 minutes can do for your child:

1. Build a positive relationship with books and reading, which
increase the desire to read.
2. Help children learn to read more easily and confidently when the
time comes.
3. Improves listening skills.
4. Expands vocabulary.
5. Teaches more complex sentence structure.
6. Improves memory.

One of our major goals as a society is to teach our children how to communicate effectively. This includes reading, writing, listening and speaking. Reading to your child can increase all of these skills. However, reading can also increase the bonding experience between you and a child. Reading can accomplish this by:

1. Providing a setting for warmth, attention, security and a calm
break in a tense day.
2. Expands a child’s understanding of herself; arousing imagination,
emotions and sympathies.
3. Expands a child’s understanding of her world; promoting
discussion of both the commonplace and the extraordinary.
4. Strengthens the reader’s relationship with the child; helping to
understand each other through reactions and discussions to the
5. Creates a fun and fond memory for both reader and the child.

Reading to a child is one of the best things that you can do for them. Studies have shown that children who are read to frequently do better in school, which wil help them to be a more successful adult.


Reading out loud to a child is different than reading to yourself. It is not difficult, but there are tips for making the reading time more enjoyable and memorable.

Set aside a specific time of day to read–
This is not restricting you from reading at anytime, but it helps to set a guideline for reading time, provides consistency and helps you to remember to set aside those 10 minutes to read.

Set a maximum number of books–
If you do not set a maximum number then you will be plagued with “just one more story” and the next thing you know, the sun will be coming up and you are buried in already-read books with an un-read pile still to go. Set a guideline such as 1 book per child (not recommended if you have a pile of kids) or 1 book on school nights and 2 on weekends. Of course, this also depends on the length of a book. If reading a chapter book then restrict it to a certain number of chapters.

Create a “Reading Area”–
If you have the room you can set up one corner of the bedroom or living room for you and your child to read. You need comfortable seating, a good light and a night stand or bookshelf that holds a few favorite selections. This is not mandatory, but can be nice to have a special place to go to read. In their room, give children their own bookshelf.

Try your hand at doing voices —
You do not have to be perfect and if you forget later on in the story what type of voice a certain character had, the children will not mind. They will be too busy enjoying or giggling at the silly voices.

Pause and ask questions–
If someone climbs a tree to pick apples, pause and ask your child, “what do you think will happen now?” Turn the page to see if they are right.

Make purposeful mistakes–
For well-known books read the words incorrectly, pause and wait for the children to correct you. For example, “Snow white lived with seven chickens,” children will enjoy correcting you and laughing at your silliness.

Make them an active participant —
Let each child be a character and encourage them to do a voice or alternate reading by letting each child read a particular page. Add hand and body movements such as wiggling or moving your hands as if you are climbing. Use the story and words as prompts. Also, reluctant readers or unusually active children frequently find it difficult to just sit and listen; provide paper, crayons and pencils allow them to keep their hands busy while listening. Don’t mind if they read along or want to turn pages. Children around age 2 may start “reading” a well-loved book by telling the story from memory or using the pictures as prompts..

Know your audience —
Avoid long descriptive passages until a child’s imagination or attention span is capable of handling them. Also, consider the intellectual, social and emotional level of your audience in making a read-aloud section. Occasionally read above the children’s intellectual level and challenge their minds.

Bring the author/illustrator to life as well as the book–
Learn about the author on the internet, or read the biography if there is one. Buy or borrow books by that same author or illustrator. Ask children what they think the author or illustrator was feeling or thinking when they did the book.

Last Minute Tips—
Avoid distractions; you are not going to be able to compete with the television or company that has come to visit. Don’t ask a child to stop what they are doing so you can read to them. Reading is important but if you skip a day or don’t hit that specific time it will not affect your child. But turning off a favorite TV show or making them come inside from playing just to listen to a book will make them resent it.

~Reading is a gift that will last a lifetime~

What to Read Aloud

Now that you the importance of reading to your child and you have an idea how you should read to them you may be faced with the problem of what to read to them. You may be faced with these questions:
� What is age-appropriate?
� What will they listen to?
� Is there anything harmful to them?
But there is no need to be concerned with these questions. It is more harmful not to read than it is what to read. There are no valid studies that show children’s books are better than newspapers or magazines better than letters. As long as you are setting aside a few minutes each day to read then just about anything is acceptable.

Children’s books:
âÂ?¢ Age-appropriate-often children’s books have age-appropriate labels on them if you are still concerned over this. But generally age-appropriateness means that it is at a level for that child to read themselves. However, an active toddler is not going to sit and listen to a chapter book but prefers short words and colorful pictures.
âÂ?¢ Where to get them-Children’s books can be purchased at department stores and often grocery stores or for more inexpensive books try going to garage sales and used book stores. Ask if there are any deals to be had with the purchase of books. A woman at my local flea market will give you $2.00 worth of books free with $3.00 purchase of children’s books. It is her way of encouraging reading and stamping out illiteracy. Books can also be rented from the library, but explain to your child that it is only borrowed and must be returned. Having to return a beloved book can be heart-breaking to a child.
� To own-There are basically 4 types of books: vinyl, paperback, hardcover and stiff cardboard. Vinyl books are appropriate for infants who like to play with and chew on anything they touch. Stiff cardboard books are better for toddlers because the pages are thick and easy for them to turn. Paperbacks are cheaper additions to a collection and are easy to carry around. Hardbacks are a little more expensive but make great additions to a permanent collection or as a gift.
âÂ?¢ To borrow from the library-children’s librarians will provide invaluable help in choosing age-appropriate books, tapes and records.

What else can be read?
1. Homemade books: you do not have to be creative to produce a professional book. Children love to make and enjoy personal books and pages can be added to a homemade book. There is a section in this book that will help you with making homemade books.
2. Magazines: if you do not have any children’s magazines seek out the assistance of a library or librarian. Most libraries should have children’s magazines and you can get subscription information from them. Some popular magazines that have proven the test of time are “Sesame Street” and “Highlights.”
3. Newspapers: if you are the type to read a newspaper every morning then read it out loud to your child. It does not matter if it is the kids section, the comics, sports or headline news. If you are concerned over content then stick to “safer” topics or peruse the column first before reading.
4. Catalogs: We all get junk mail from time to time. Instead of tossing it into the trash try reading it to your child. You can also give it to them and let them “read” it and if it gets tore up in the process it is no big deal.
5. Internet: With so many of us having access to internet in the home time spent at home has become more one-on-one. The internet is an isolated activity. Instead of having this isolation bring your child up into your lap and read web pages to them. There are stories (many of them interactive) magazine web sites, games and educational sites to be found all over the internet. A child will love the action, animation and sounds of the internet as well as the comfort and closeness of sitting in your lap.
6. Cereal boxes and other food packages: Often cereal boxes have something on the side or backs to read that appeal to kids. It’s a great time to read-they are sitting there at the table, the box stands upright without needing hands, and they are eating a good breakfast.
7. Signs: Children will often point out flashy signs along the roadside, so go ahead and read them out loud. It takes only seconds but your child will enjoy the interaction. As your child learns to read have them read the signs.
8. Cookbooks and Recipes: As you are cooking read the recipes out loud or let older children read it to you as you gather the ingredients.
9. Letters and cards from the mail: If the letter is not too personal read it to your children. Or have them read notes that are sent from home. When writing letters to children be sure to print so that they can read it.
10. Photographs: This is one of my favorite ideas. Pull out photo albums and read the names, dates or comments on the back. Discuss them with the children and let them know who that person is to them. Make a game out of it and ask them who they think it is or what the relation is to that child and then see if they are right.

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