Encouraging a love of the written word is an important part of any child's education. With the constant distraction of video games, Internet, and television, it is important to make time to promote literacy among children. In this article, we look at some tips to help young readers develop a lifelong love of books.
- Encourage them to draw. Drawing is an important gateway skill that, when promoted at an early age, has been shown to increase literacy in children. Singing and reading aloud also teach important language skills.
- When children begin to read, encourage them to make a habit of it. Schedule time every day to read together. Make trips to the library a regular occurrence, and encourage your children to explore and pick books they're interested in.
- Suggest books they might like. Take the initiative and find books related to your children's interests. Encourage them to value books by giving them as special gifts at holiday time.
- Make reading a game. Turn the newspaper into a scavenger hunt by giving your children a list of things to track down. Get them to write a synopsis of an episode of their favorite TV show. Classic car ride games such as "I spy" and "name the country" also encourage literacy and are a great way to pass the time on the road.
- Let them read what they want. Don't be judgmental if your children prefer graphic novels or the latest young adult series over "serious" fiction. Often they will get more out of something they're reading for sheer joy than they would something they're forced to slog through. A true love of literature is something that lasts a lifetime--there will be plenty of opportunities to read the classics later.
- Make books a reward. Allow children to stay up late to read. Promise to buy them a new book or make an extra trip to the library in exchange for getting good grades or helping around the house.
- Promote their creativity. Reading encourages children to think creatively about the world around them. Encourage them to write stories of their own, and give them tools to design and print covers for their work.
Remember that when you take the time to encourage children to read, you are giving them the gift of literacy that lasts a lifetime. Children who love to read are generally more creative and curious about the world around them--traits that are likely to make them happier and more successful as adults.