Reading from a young age can greatly improve a child's literacy skills. This article lists some tips on how to encourage your child to read.
Literacy refers to the ability to read and write, and it is considered by policy makers that literacy increases job opportunities and access to higher education. Illiteracy is most prevalent in developing countries, for example, South Asian, Arab and Sub-Saharan African countries are regions with the highest illiteracy rates at about 40-50%. However, illiteracy problem is not only confined to developing countries. In the US, one in seven persons can barely read a job offer or utility bill, and recently the World Literacy Foundation said that one in five of the UK population are functionally illiterate, which is costing the UK economy £81 billion a year in lost earnings and increased welfare spending. Last year, the London Evening Standard launched a literacy campaign to support children who are struggling to read, after a finding saying that one in four children in the capital are practically illiterate on leaving primary school and that 1 million working adults cannot read.
Needless to say, literacy is a skill that is best cultivated when young. A child who loves reading tends to have a better ability in reading and writing. However, getting your child to love reading might not be a straightforward process. This article provides you some practical advice on how to achieve this seemingly difficult task.
Read Aloud/Talk to Children
Be a storyteller yourself and read aloud to your child is one effective way to encourage your child to love books and reading. Not only that it is a good bonding experience, but reading stories aloud to your child can also help develop his/her listening skills and language development. As your child gets older, you can invite him/her to participate in role-playing the stories so that the child can acquire the ability to express himself/herself confidently, clearly and easily. It can also strengthen the child’s interests and appreciation in reading.
This can work for babies and toddlers who have not started talking as well, as even babies of a few months can listen to your voice and see pictures. You do not have to read a story to these youngsters every time. By constantly talking to the child about what you are doing, the environment, what he/she is seeing and touching, your child is more likely to develop a curiosity in reading and using language skills as he/she grows.
Make Reading a Fun Activity
If a child sees reading as a task, it would be of no fun. This means it would be better not to set aside a specific time in your child’s daily schedule for reading. Instead, try to engage your child to read by incorporating various types of activities. For example, you can take your child to the local library so that the child can have a day trip out and engage in reading at a different venue from home. This looks less boring and appears to be a break from the child’s daily routine. An additional plus is that the child can have a chance to select from a wide range of reading materials that are appropriate for his/her age group (if unsure, the local librarian is always ready to help). He/she can meet other children and probably have some group reading sessions together. You can also play reading-related games, such as board games that require reading instructions or filling in spaces with words or letters, with your child.
Be a Role Model
It would greatly enhance your child’s interests in reading if you can lead by example. If you love reading yourself and always read at home for pleasure, it is easier for your child to imitate you. There is no need to do it too intentionally: for example, you can read newspapers while having breakfast, pick up a magazine or fiction when you are resting, or read information or directions when planning for a family trip. Share with your child the interesting or informative stories as you read so as to engage your child’s attention as well as teach the child the value of reading. Treat books/reading materials with respect and hopefully you child would follow suit.
With the prevalence of television and computer games these days, it is easy for children to get distracted from reading. You should be a role model and try to stay away from these distractions yourself. After all, it does not appear appropriate if you ask your child to sit down and read while you are enthusiastically indulging in your PS3!
Give them Freedom
Let your child enjoy reading as much as possible by giving him/her freedom in the choice of reading time and reading materials. Do not assign your child a reading list or reading tasks such as comprehension questions after finishing a book or a story, as this would make them associate reading with work and not pleasure. In addition, unless your child has selected materials that are offensive or apparently not appropriate for his/her age, do not make judgements or criticise on his/her choice of reading materials, as this would kill all the fun of reading.
‘The Benefits of Children’s Stories: The Read Aloud Difference’. littleonesreadingresource.com (Assessed: 09/15/2012)
‘Children who can read, but don’t …’. (Assessed: 09/14/2012)
Perkinson, Kathryn. ‘Getting your child to love reading’. EssayTyper Inc (Assessed: 09/14/2012)
‘Standard launches campaign to overcome “blight of illiteracy”’. http://www.guardian.co.uk(Assessed: 09/14/2012)
Watson, Leon. ‘Illiterate Britain: One in five adults struggling to read and write and some can’t even use a chequebook’. http://www.dailymail.co.uk (Assessed: 09/14/2012)
‘World Illiteracy’. http://www.sheppardsoftware.com (Assessed: 09/14/2012)