Mom's How To: Inspire Your Child to Read
I love to read books. Being a wife and a busy working mom of three I don’t have as much time as I would like to read (other responsibilities tend to take priority). I liked reading as a child and was blessed with a natural ability when learning to read. It is my hope for my children that they not only learn the importance of reading, but that they learn to love to read and choose to read just because. So, how can we, as parents, foster a love for reading in our children?
Books have been a part of our children’s lives since they were babies. Really there’s only so much you can do with a baby, especially a newborn, so why not make reading books to them a part of their day? It can help pass the time when they start spending more time awake during the day and can provide extra bonding time. Children love listening to the sound of their parents’ voices and books provide plenty of chances for interaction. My children have always loved the touch and feel books or anything with flaps they can lift. Books became an important part of the bedtime routine when my children were babies. They were old enough to learn to fall asleep on their own and snuggling up with a pile of books after a warm bath was the perfect way to wind down and get them ready to settle before bed.
Now that my kids are much older, the importance of books and reading to them or having them read to us has not diminished. After second term I was called in for a parent-teacher conference. I was surprised that my son’s teacher felt he was struggling with his reading. He read to us at home and I just didn’t see the things she was seeing at school. She sent us home with different words every week and corresponding sentences and we spent the last term of school practicing at home. “Homework” was last thing I wanted at the end of a busy day, but my son was cooperative and it was important to us follow his teacher’s recommendations. I am so thankful that his teacher pushed him when she did because his reading has taken off ever since. He used to lack confidence and claim he couldn’t read. Now he is proud to be reading chapter books all on his own. I made sure to thank his teacher for seeing an area of growth and for encouraging him to strengthen his reading.
The school my children attend has some great reading programs. For Grades 1 and up, there is the Accelerated Reader (AR) program. Children can either have books read to them, read with their parents or read books independently. The books must be part of the AR program, but there are thousands of books to choose from. Upon completing a book, students take a short comprehension quiz to earn points. Books are given a reading level to ensure students are reading appropriate levelled books, as well as a point value for successful completion of quiz questions. Each student sets an individual reading goal at the start of the term and if they reach their AR goal, they get to partake in an AR reward with the whole school. Some past rewards have been movies, theatre events, musical presentations and even ice cream sundaes with all the trimmings. These events are always fun and for most kids are just the motivation they need to pick up a book and read.
My son’s classroom also has a great reading incentive program called the 100’s club. Students write down any books or chapters read until they have reached 100 books/chapters. There is a small reward for every 20 entries and once they’ve reached the 100 club, they can move on to the 200 club, or 300 club. I am so proud of my son. I thought it would be a challenge to reach the 100 club, but for a boy who once struggled, he is now working towards getting in the 400 club and reads every time he finishes his work early in class.
Watching his brother and sister’s interest in books has really pushed my youngest to take an interest in reading. He’s in junior kindergarten and has been working hard to learn all his letter sounds. A few weeks ago I noticed him trying to sound out words and I have to admit that watching my children try to read has always been a thrill. I feel such pride and share in their excitement when they’ve figured out a word or two or more! There is an at-home reading program for the senior kindergarten students in his class and I figured it couldn’t hurt to ask his teacher if she had any appropriate books for him to take home just like his older siblings. I wanted to foster his interest in reading and his teacher was completely on board and able to send home some little books that he’d be able to sound out all the words phonetically. He is so proud to read “his” book on the couch before bed and is equally excited to try to earn a reading reward from us for reading what he calls “a whole bunch of books”.
Fostering a love for reading doesn’t have to be complicated. Start early or wait until your children show an interest. Show them that reading doesn’t have to be just about academics. It can be a way to unwind, learn more about the world or simply let the story exercise your imagination.