The single most important factor in raising a reader is the activity of the parent in the child’s early life. An enormous number of studies have demonstrated that the most important factor in children learning how to read and loving reading at a young age is the parent reading to his or her child twenty minutes every day. This daily reading should begin when your child is still a baby.
During the first three years of life, the brain of a child develops at a truly extraordinary rate. One of the most important aspects of brain development is the development of language and the exposure to language along with experiences with language. You are your child’s first teacher. Exposure to language and exposure to books at an early age, even before your child begins to speak, is a key element in brain development and in raising a true reader.
Here are some great tips to help you raise a reader: a child who truly loves books and loves to read.
1. Start to read to your child when he or she is born. Early reading will help your child gain vocabulary and language skills at an early age.
2. Read to your baby, your toddler, and your older children every day. When your child becomes older, continue to read with him or her even when he or she reads on their own.
3. Sing to your baby every night and throughout the day. Exposure to language in any form, reading or singing, will help your child develop language abilities and develop your child’s mind.
4. Read your child nursery rhymes. It is especially beneficial for babies and toddlers to hear nursery rhymes, because they are easy for babies and toddlers to learn and to repeat. Having books full of nursery rhymes can help your children learn how to identify letters and words in patterns and orders that are already known by heart.
5. Take your child to storytime. Almost all local libraries offer storytime for children of a number of different ages. Many libraries offer storytime that is directly geared towards babies. You can also take your toddlers to storytime along with your older children.
6. Take your child to the library on a regular basis. Even if your child cannot yet read, you can let your child pick out books that are appealing to him or to her. Children will be more interested in reading books that appear interesting to them. Taking your child to the library on a regular basis helps your child become accustomed to the library, familiar with books, and excited about reading and about finding interesting books about different topics.
7. Read with expression. Use different voices for each character. Add sound effects. Making the story interesting through differences in inflection and expression will make your child even more interested in the book.
8. Choose books with bright pictures. Babies love books that they can feel and that they can play with. Choose books that not only have words, but also offer the opportunity to play with the book itself. Toddlers also love to play with books and love to manipulate books–such as pop up books and other brightly colored books.
9. Read your child’s favorite books over and over and over again. As you continue to read the book, and as the child looks at the book, then your child will learn how to recognize words and will become familiar with letters and words.
10. Schedule a daily reading time. If your toddler knows a specific time each day when it will be reading time, then your child will start to look forward to reading time. Your child will also become familiar with reading and will see reading as part of everyday life.