With all of the fun games and apps available to kids today, its no surprise reading often takes a backseat.
But according to research by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), “Reading is the single most important skill necessary for a happy, productive and successful life. A child that is an excellent reader is a confident child, has a high level of self esteem and is able to easily make the transition from learning to read to reading to learn.”
But how do busy moms encourage their children to read more and cut back on watching television or playing on the iPad less?
We went to Joella Peterson, children’s services manager at Provo City Library, for answers.
“Reading is a fundamental skill for life,” Peterson said. “The best way to prepare children for adult life is to give them the keys to be successful, and one of those keys is reading. If children enjoy reading, they will be more apt to continue to read as teenagers and as adults.”
Here are Peterson’s tips for encouraging young children to read:
1. Let kids pick their own reading material.
“If a parent forces a kid to read something they are not interested in, they are not going to want to read for fun and will always find something else to do,” Peterson said.
2. Have a variety of book options available.
Peterson suggests checking out a selection of books from your local library for your children to choose from. “That way, if children feel inclined to read, they will have options that will fit the mood they are in at that precise moment,” Peterson said.
3. Let kids read in the format they enjoy.
If traditional books aren’t grabbing your children’s interest, try playing an audio book in the car while you run errands.
“Many times, kids that don’t seem interested in reading will get hooked on reading by listening to audio books,” Peterson said.
If your child is a visual learner, Peterson suggests giving graphic novels a shot.
4. Read by example.
“Be an example and make time to read yourself — especially in front of your kids,” Peterson said. “If kids never see their parents reading for fun, they won’t think reading is that important. If you only read after your children go to bed, they won’t see that reading is a priority to you. Perhaps they see your priorities as your iPhone, iPad or TV shows. But if you make reading a priority, kids will see that it is an important choice for them as well.”
5. Make reading a positive experience for your baby.
“For very young kiddos, reading can mean gnawing on a book or banging a board book on the ground. Don’t force little ones to sit absolutely still to read as you turn the pages. Let them love the experience of holding books, eating books, and playing with books. When they they lose interest, let them put the book down and come back to it later.”
6. Subscribe to a book box service.
A book box subscription, like Utah Valley-based LitJoy Crate, for example, is a fun way to encourage an early love for reading. Each box is catered to your child’s developmental level and comes with a new-release book and 2-3 book-related items to make reading fun.
7. Take advantage of your local library.
Story time, literacy programs, reading lists, personalized reading recommendations and reward-based reading challenges are just a few free programs your local library might offer.
For Provo Library’s events calendar (including an upcoming celebration of comics and graphic novels), click here.