The benefits of reading for a child's intellectual, social and emotional development has been well documented and proven by research. The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages parents to read to their kids as early as their infancy, or even while they are still in mom's womb.
Reading is not just a skill your child needs to learn -- it's an invaluable life skill that’s tremendously helpful growing up. There's always a book that can arm your child with values and lessons, which they will need to navigate the adult world in the future.
According to Ani Almario, vice president of Adarna House, a publishing company committed to "education and the promotion of the Filipino language," the best way to get your tot to read is to read yourself. "If they always see their moms and dads reading, they won’t think twice about picking up the habit," she told Smart Parenting.
Here are a few tried-and-tested tricks to encourage your child to read.
1. Practice by telling them stories about your day. Make your own stories to tell your kids. They don’t have to be complicated; talk about the events that happened in your day no matter how simple. If you're running errands with your child, narrate the day to him. Point out scenes that you encounter, and ask him about what he thinks. Judy Cheatham, Ph.D., vice president of literacy services for the U.S. nonprofit Reading Is Fundamental explained to Parents that talking to your toddler helps him become familiar with hearing, speech, and stimulates the language pathways in his brain.
2. Make books accessible to them. "Never discourage their liking for a certain book. There might be something in it that they [enjoy]. Find out what it is, and then look for similar books," Pia Pulido, director and owner of Roomful of Learners, suggested to Smart Parenting. If you want to introduce your child to a new book, go ahead but don't hide his favorite book away. Strike a compromise.
3. Read aloud to and with your child. We don't mean just reading a book aloud to them like you normally would by yourself. Be expressive. Do voices, use puppets, or use your hands to make gestures. Point to pictures as you say the word to hone word association for reading. It helps you capture your tot's attention. And don't just stick to bedtime stories; you can enjoy books any time of the day. As much as possible, show him you're reading in your free time, and hand him a book as well, so you can both read "together."
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4. Make it an interactive activity. Let him turn the page, ask him questions, or act out a scene. Tots love to play, and it is how they learn. "When a child is moving around, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s not listening," Pulido said. See if your child needs a break, considering his attention span. Don't worry if you don't finish a book if he's not interested, "There’s no hard and fast rule saying that you should finish the book," Almario said. Watch for and pick books where his interests lean on and carry on.
5. Balance reading and gadget time. Technology is just at our fingertips and kids would usually choose a tablet over a book. "If you confiscate it and then hand him a book instead, that’s a negative situation-reading would seem like punishment," Pulido explained. Best to delay exposure to such gadgets, even if he uses education or reading apps, as it could affect their focus and attention span, says Almario. If you can't do that, make sure you set aside time for both books and screens.
What are you waiting for? Pick a new book and start reading! For more articles on reading to your kids, click here.