Reading books is more beneficial than you might think. It is great for mental stimulation, which in terms slows the progress of (or possibly even prevent) the potential risk of Alzheimer’s or Dementia, it reduces stress, it enriches your knowledge, expands your vocabulary, improves your memory, strengthens your analytical skills, improves your focus and concentration, and the list goes on.
So, nurturing this habit in your kids will be something they will be grateful about when they grow up. In an age of computers and smartphones, where reading books experiences an enormous decline among young children and teenagers, it is very important that you, as parents, start promoting this healthy habit among your children and grant them a gift like no other money can buy.
So how can you create these healthy reading habits in your child? Just follow these steps and be creative by inventing others as well.
Find books with rich illustrations – not photos!
Books with simple photos and minimal text are the least helpful ones for children under age 5. They don’t trigger as many conversation starters and these are critical to child development. So, find books with rich illustrations and let your and your child’s creativity come to full bloom.
Ask questions based on the illustrations
Illustrations can help children enrich their vocabulary, especially at the age between 16 and 24 months, as during that period, they add more words to their vocabulary daily than they do at any other age. They start with learning the easiest words, such as nouns like “dog” and “tree”. So, if you see a picture of a dog, ask questions as “Where is the dog? Do you see it?” “What is the dog doing?” “What color is it?” The base knowledge of nouns helps kids construct sentences with other parts of speech more quickly, so “dog” will turn into “brown dog” and eventually “brown dog runs.”
Point out the obvious
Kids have still no idea about what you may take for granted as an adult: things such as the author’s name, what an author does, how to hold a book, reading sentences from left to right, turning pages. Share these basic steps with your child to help them read independently when they are ready.
Cuddling and reading are a perfect pair
Cuddling helps your child associate reading with the feeling of closeness and comfort. This will build up their self-confidence about reading, especially out loud.
Relate the content to real life
Relating a book’s plot to a real-life situation your child has experienced will help your child remember the book and the vocabulary better. So, if you’re reading a book about Jamie going to the zoo, start a conversation about the last time your child went to the zoo with you. For children over the age 3, you can ask open-ended questions (who, what, where and why) to create a dialogue of storytelling.
Spark a conversation
What’s more important than finishing the entire book is the conversation you have during reading. Responding to questions (even those never-ending ones) and talking with your child will help them develop their cognitive skills and social development in the real world. You can decide to stop reading at any moment which is convenient for a rich conversation and let the conversation flow from there.
Imitate voices and make silly sounds
Your child will adore your silly side when it comes to onomatopoeias such a Moooo! Ring, ring! Knock, knock! Bang! So don’t feel afraid to say them in the right moment. The variety of sounds and voices will lead to your child recognizing phonemes, or sound units that make up larger words. It will in term help your child speak full words.
Ask prediction questions
“What do you think the cat will do after it drinks the milk?” “What toy do you think Jessie will choose?” This kind of questions helps your child to learn to read on their own. Later, when your child picks up a chapter book for the first time, they won’t have any trouble finding the page where they left off. This is because this way of communicating while reading makes them remember points in the book. It will also enhance their creativity and their ability to become better narrative storytellers.
Follow their lead
Don’t force your child to sit still and read. This will make them see reading as a punishment, not fun. Just go with the flow of your child’s attention span. If they lose interest, let them run around the house and come back to the book in a few minutes, but don’t give up when they do so – keep on reading and commenting on the story to yourself. They will often come back to you out of curiosity.