Reading with your little one can be one of the best parts of your day (the snuggles, the relaxing quiet time!)…especially during that magical transition when they start reading words back to you (yes, it is totally normal for you to think, “my child is a genius!!”). Then they hesitantly string a couple of words together. And sooner or later, they want to read you their favorite book. Today, I’d like to share some fun ways to encourage little readers.
Make it a special, make it consistent.
We try to make reading time special at our house. Typically, we read after my kiddos are all clean and snuggly for bedtime – because my husband and I make reading part of their bedtime routine. Every night. With our first grader, she always wants to read to us (you know, because she’s practically 16). My preschooler is getting into BOB books now (if you haven’t heard of this amazing learn-to-read series, check it out!). Now, we read him a story (of his choice), and we work with him on letting him read a BOB book to us. Reading is part of their cuddle time, and unless something out of the ordinary is happening, we keep this routine every night. And we all look forward to it!
Take them to the library.
I try to take my kids to the library once a month (we go once a week during the summer). They each come with their own fabric handle bags, and my rule is that you can pick as many books as you can carry. They LOVE this! It gives them control to pick what they want and read about what interests them. And we all know (especially with little ones) that they are constantly vying for control. This is a great way to engage them in the reading process.
And yes, I sneak in some books that I’d like them to read, too!
Give them their own book budget.
If you can, try giving them a book budget every week or month. This is a “two-fer.” They get to pick books that they are interested in and excited about…and they get to practice counting and keeping track of their “budget.” Even if it’s only $5! There’s something exciting and special about getting to go shopping for your own books.
Make a reading reward chart.
Do you have a shy or hesitant reader? Try creating a fun reading reward chart for them. (You can read my blog about reward charts here, for some ideas.) And, if your kids are anything like my daughter, she LOVES to keep tangible track of her accomplishments. Which is probably why reward charts works so well for her. She loves logging each and every book she reads.
You can pick what you feel most comfortable with in regards of earned “prizes,” and also pick how many books they have to read to earn them. Stickers, “dollar spot” trinkets, earning a trip to their favorite place (like having an ice cream, going to their favorite restaurant, going to a favorite bouncy place, etc.), a toy, etc. – it all depends how you want to set it up, and what you feel will work best for your child.
Play games while you’re reading.
Oh my gosh, you can practically make a game out of anything when you’re reading! When teaching my kiddos to read, I use my pointer finger and follow along with my finger as I’m reading. Then, I have my preschooler do the same. Here are just a few “game” ideas that might make reading a little more entertaining for little ones :
– Count how many _______ you can see! (Pick a simple word – “a,” “the,” “ball,” etc.).
– Have them point to a picture and then point to the corresponding word. Or visa-versa.
– You read a sentence, they read a sentence – trade off. I find that my preschooler loves when I read in funny voices. Whatever works.
– Tell me all the words that start with ______. (pick a letter).
I could go on and on. Creating these little games make it more interactive for your kids, and I’d like to think it helps them with their comprehension level.
Speaking of game, phonics, phonics, phonics.
I have personally found that the easiest way to teach my kids to read, is by starting them with phonics. I am a BIG proponent of phonics.
Now, there are a zillion programs out there to get your little one started on phonics. My favorite? A free app and website called “Starfall.” If you haven’t heard of it, check it out. My daughter did at least 15 minutes of Starfall a day for a full summer (in addition to our reading time together at night), and when it clicked, it clicked. It is a great supplemental resource. And the best part is, she thought mommy was just letting her play games!
Have your “big” read to your “little.”
This is the BEST! If you have an older child, have them read a book to your little. There is nothing more heartwarming to see…and honestly, it is great positive peer pressure. Never underestimate the power of positive peer pressure! If big sis thinks reading is cool, so do I! (And you are stealthily getting in more reading time for your big!).
Once your little starts reading more confidently, have them read to their big brother or sister!
What are some ways you make reading fun for your child? And great tips you can share for encouraging little readers?
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