10 Ways to Raise Great Readers
1. Read aloud together. Tell stories. Share stories. Make this a family activity.
Relaxing, stillness, contemplation and shared experiences are essential in today’s hectic world. Families and communities have shared stories for thousands of years. Stories swapped, shared and discussed have always been an essential cultural pursuit. There are so many other demands on our time these days – but stories are as essential to the passing on wisdom – and the cementing of attachments – today as they have always been.
2. Make quiet time for reading.
TV, MSN, surfing the web, texting, social media, video games… these activities often require less mental energy than reading a book. Set aside quiet time each day for reading and discussing… TV off, phones on silent. Start when your children are young and this will become a cherished part of their day.
3. Celebrate stories and literature in the activities you share.
A family trip to the library or bookstore, or a discussion about a book you have read, helps to encourage young people to read. Book festivals, small press fairs and events that celebrate literacy – and literature – make for a great day out. Where possible, give children the opportunity to meet authors whose work they enjoy, and to celebrate books by meeting other people who love to read.
4. Talk about books!
When family members and older siblings talk together about books they have read, younger children are inspired to join in. It is important to make young people aware of the benefits of reading. Praise children when their vocabulary or topics of discussion widen because of their reading. Make sure they are aware of how they are benefiting.
5. Set an example yourself
When children see parents and role models enjoying literature, they are more likely to read themselves. When books are prominent in the home, children are more predisposed to read them.
6. Make the right books available
For reluctant readers’ the right book is any book at all that the child expresses an interest in, or that furthers an interest they already have. Books about hockey. Fantasy. Computers. Graphic novels. Whatever. If children struggle with their reading, it is important that the books presented to them are simple for them to read – or they may become discouraged. For more sophisticated readers, a challenge is essential. A bright teenager presented only with ‘books for young adults’ may become as discouraged as a reluctant reader child presented with books too complex for them. Introduce avid teen readers to adult literature with appropriate content, to the classics, and to world literature.
7. Play with words and enjoy them.
Word games are great for younger children. Any game or activity which promotes an appreciation of language is likely to lead to an interest in reading.
8. Enjoy related arts activities.
All of the arts are interconnected. A child who is introduced to dance, visits art galleries, plays an instrument or tackles a character on the stage is more likely to read as well… and the chances are, they will have more frames of references to bring to their reading, too.
9. Encourage a child to be inquisitive about the world…
… and to look for answers in books
Who discovered the earth was round? Which is the most lethal snake? Where is the best place in Canada to hunt for buried treasure? When a child asks questions, there’s a great opportunity to encourage reading… and to allow them to discover for themselves the rewards.