So far I am lucky that my oldest two children love reading and will do so of their own accord. Our prep child has just begun the process of learning to read and this reminded me of how many opportunities there are through out the course of a normal day, to find ways to encourage children to read:
1. Shopping List
I try to always shop with a list. I like to give the list to my children and ask them to read through the list and let me know what we need to get. They can then also help locate the item on the shelf by reading the labels.
2. Street Directory
The street directory provides many learning opportunities for children. A way to encourage them to read, is by enlisting their help when you are going somewhere. Even if I know where we are going, sometimes I will still tell my child the name of the street and ask them to find the street name in the back of the directory. This task allows them to not only practice reading words, but helps strengthen their alphabetical recall. For older children, they can then move onto the next step and find the location on the appropriate page of the street directory
Going to the library on a regular basis exposes children to such a diverse range of reading options: non fiction, fiction, comics, magazines. It also allows them to develop favourites authors, styles of books, genres as they frequently choose books for themselves.
Each time we visit our library we receive a long print out of the books that we have borrowed. This in itself provides a reading opportunity. When it comes time to return the books, I give the list to the children and they then read this list, ticking off the books that they have found until we have all books accounted for.
4. Read In Front Of Them
I think it is important that my children see myself and my husband reading – both enjoying reading and reading with a purpose. Children pick up so much from what they observe in the house, so it is important that they see us valuing reading and doing it often.
5. Read With Them
I am not sure at what age my children will want me to stop reading to and with them, but thankfully my 10 year old is still happy for me to do this. Not only does reading a story with them encourage them to read more themselves, but it is also gives me an understanding of what sort of books they like, what things they find funny or scary and it is a lovely way to spend time with them.
6. Newspaper Sports Scores
For some children the best way to encourage them to read, is to make it relevant and useful to them. For many boys, there aren’t many more important things than the sport scores of their favourite team. They can also read the match reports with some help as well, depending on their age.
Reading a newspaper can be a learning experience also. Teaching them about the different sections of a newspaper, using an index and explaining the difference between factual and opinion pieces.
7. Write Your Own Stories
A favourite activity with my children as they have started reading with some confidence, has been to write and then publish on the computer their own stories. We have two different styles that we do: a story where we print out text only and the child draws the pictures to match the story they have thought of or; inserting digital photos from an event in the child’s life and allowing them to write the text to match. Children love reading about themselves!
I like to have the children cook with me regularly and reading the recipes is a great way to get children to read. It also puts reading into a practical and useful context.
9. Rules Of Games
As with recipes, when playing a game, before starting having a child read out aloud the rules of the game so everyone understands is another practical way to show children the importance of reading.
10. Magazine or Comic Subscription
Our children have been given magazine subscriptions as birthday presents and they have been an excellent way to encourage them to read. It is very exciting to receive mail as a child and then to have the latest edition of your favourite magazine is also lots of fun.