Your child’s love for all things literacy starts with you. Say it ain’t so! Just like with many other personality characteristics and behaviors your child acquires from you, building your child’s reading resiliency and love of reading start with you. It’s ok if you are telling yourself, “But I don’t really like reading.” There are many ways you can foster the love for reading through your actions, words, and feelings as you engage in reading with your little ones.
As children grow, they naturally look to you for guidance. Children are like sponges! They soak up all of the sensory details that are present during your engagement with them. Not only are they acutely aware of even the more minute sensory details such as changes in the tone of your voice and subtle facial expressions, they will take them on as their own! Your child’s own habits and personality characteristics are developed based on what they see and hear from you, their leader and protector. One of my favorite examples of children mimicry is the Linda meme.
You can contribute greatly to their reading development by getting more involved in their learning journey. Just how you involve yourself in their reading journey is everything! Here are some tips and reminders to bear in mind when it comes to ensuring your child is set up for success and builds the strength they need to become resilient readers.
Become a Living Example of a Reader
Set a good example for your child by actively modeling reading when you can. If they see you read, they are more inclined to take on reading on their own. One of my 4 year old students was sitting by himself reading an encyclopedia on dinosaurs. When I asked him what he was reading, he held it up and said, “A book on dinosaurs!” and proceeded to tell me what he knew about dinosaurs as he ran his finger across the text in reading fashion. My face lit up! That’s a sure sign he’s seen someone else engage in reading the same way.
Read to Your Child Often
Read aloud often! Reading does not have to be reserved for bedtime stories. You can read aloud labels on household items such as the back of the cereal box, words that appear in visual content, signs and plaques while you are out and about and even products at the grocery store. Reading to your child often during their early years influences the development of many skills necessary for success in reading in their future even when their capacity to speak or understand the story completely is amiss! To read about other ways reading to your child during the emergent stage of reading development, look here.
Read Books Together
Every time you read a book to your child you increase their knowledge in print awareness, phonological awareness and vocabulary. Reading books that are interesting to your child is important in establishing their autonomy surrounding the act. Children should feel comfortable and excited while engaging in books.
Interact with Books
Taking on a form of ‘booktalking’ with your child, at any age, is beneficial to building reading resiliency. Have conversations with your child about the text that they are read. Make it relatable. Connect it to some aspect of their own lives. You could also ask hypothetical questions such as, “How would you feel if you were in that situation?”
Show You Authentically Care
Whether your child is an emergent reader or a middle school or high school aged reader, it’s important to show you genuinely care about their reading. Making connections with your child is important and has been proven to help alleviate anxiety and despair surrounding reading. Their reading journey does not have to be a solo one.
Creating a Safe and Warm Reading Environment
When a child feels safe and (emotional) warm in their environment, children are more encouraged to engage in reading. Essentially self-learning begins to take place. You could build a reading nook in the home, a place where you and your child can go to read and engage in learning together. There are some great ideas for reading nooks here.
Set Reading Goals and Provide Awesome Feedback
Setting and accomplishing reading goals with your child is a great way to check-in. It allows you to have conversations about what has actually been read and opens the door for reflective conversations between both of you. Keep in mind that goals shouldn’t be too challenging or academically driven. The purpose is to build a love for reading not apply any additional pressure to your child. Effective feedback is empathetic in nature. Instead of saying, “I’m so proud of you,” say, “You must be proud of yourself that you worked so hard to accomplish your goal!” Be mindful of the facial expressions you choose, the tone of your voice, the words you use, and the true emotions you are expressing before and during reading. Children are smart, they can pick up on subtleties.
Let your child’s love and resiliency for reading grow from the seeds you plant throughout their life.
I’ve created a printable resource that includes reading tips for reading to your child at home. For these reading tips, download the link below!
I hope you found this helpful. Be sure to email me if you have any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell me what you think about this list and the ways you’ve helped your child fall in love with reading.