Encouraging Children to Read
The best way for parents to help their children become good readers
is to read to them--even when they are very young. When adults read aloud,
children quickly learn that a book is a wonderful thing.
Parents can start reading to children soon after their birth. Although
children won't fully understand the story or poem, they will simply enjoy
hearing their parent's voice.
Parents will want to provide picture books for infants and simple word
and rhyming books for toddlers. Preschoolers enjoy books that contain
short stories as well as information about the world around them.
Reading is more than just saying words. It's a shared activity between
children and caring adults. Children can also learn a great deal about
language by hearing parents and grandparents read aloud. Children benefit
most from reading aloud when parents:
Help children to create their own books by using their own stories and cutting
out magazine pictures, photos and/or children's art work.
- are enthusiastic about the experience.
- give children time to look at the pictures and encourage them to hunt
for objects in the pictures.
- discuss stories with children.
- help children learn to identify letters and words.
- use an index finger underneath words so that children connect the
print to the story.
- talk about the meaning of words.
- answer questions asked by children at the time they ask them.
- continually re-read children's favorite books.
- compare experiences in books with like experiences in children's lives.
- encourage children to read with them when phrases are repeated in
- ask their children questions related to the book after reading to
- encourage children to make up their own stories. Parents can write
down the stories and then read them back to children.
Parents will want to keep plenty of books around for children to pick
up and parents should set up a regular routine for reading such as nap
time and/or bedtime.
Children also get the impression that reading is valuable when they
see their parents enjoy and benefit from reading. When parents read at
home and check out library books for themselves, as well as their children,
parents model the pleasure and importance of reading.
Jones, Claudia, Parents are Teachers, Too, Williamson Publishing
Co., Charlotte, VT, 1988.
Lynch, Priscilla, Hello Reader-Level 1 Series, Scholastic, Inc.,
New York, 1994.
Prepared by Lisa K. McMurtry, Extension
Educator, Family Life.