Do you wonder if it is possible to teach children to love reading when they are young? There are some simple, frugal steps you can take as a parent to nurture an affection for books in your home.
I have many memories from my childhood that involve books. In some ways it was out of necessity; I was an only child for seven years and my family lived eighteen miles from the nearest town. Books were full of interesting pictures and stories and I was fortunate that my parents read to me often.
As a mother, I now see how much joy books bring to a child. Our boys love to crawl up in my lap with a book in hand. Having worked in the field of Early Childhood Development for 8 years, I know the positive implications of early reading habits. Research shows that the number and quality of of words a child hears from birth to age three greatly impacts their vocabulary and I.Q. as adults.
Perhaps reading wasn’t something that happened regularly in your home as a child or maybe you don’t like to read yourself. Don’t be discouraged! There are still ways that you can cultivate a love of reading in your child.
Begin reading to you child early. Some parents even choose to begin during pregnancy as a baby develops a sense of hearing by the 4th month. This is a nice way of baby to bond with Mom and Dad’s voice! Continue this tradition after delivery. It doesn’t matter the time of day or the place, just do what works for you. Select a few sturdy board books with simple pictures to begin with.
Make it a Routine
Nap and bedtime are great times to begin this routine. Make it a fun time for you and your child. It’s okay if he wants to flip through the pages faster than you can read; the interaction he has with you is more important than reading every word on every page.
Make Books Visible
Place children’s books in visible places in your home. Stack books on the coffee table, on a shelf in your child’s room, and in an open area of the entertainment center.
Build a Library
Begin building a collection of children’s books during pregnancy. Start small, with a book or two, and continue as your finances allow. Yard sales or consignment shops are great places to find books, often for less than a dollar a piece. One of my favorite sources for purchasing books online is Better World Books. The more books you purchase, the cheaper they get, and shipping is always free!
Visit your Local Library
Make visits to the library a tradition as your child grows. Check to see if your local library offers children’s programs, reading groups, or other educational activities. Our local library has hosted music classes, traveling theater productions, and an exotic animal exhibit that included a baby kangaroo! Lately, our boys have enjoyed using the OverDrive app through our library; an app where you can “check out” and download up to five free audiobooks at a time onto a device.
One of my favorite online resources is Read Aloud Revival. Sarah Mackenzie an author and a homeschool mother of six who works to encourage parents to connect with their children through books. Her podcast is one of my favorites (she is just darling to listen to) and she has a wonderful free booklist available. If you happen to be a homeschooler, her book, (affiliate link) Teaching From Rest is a must read!
As with anything else, a reading routine with your child has to work for your family. There are countless ways that you can incorporate early literacy activities into your child’s life. Act silly, laugh a lot, and enjoy every moment!