July 16, 2021
How to spark a child’s passion in reading
Reading as a hobby may seem like an old and outdated pastime to some, but it remains an essential part of daily life and learning. Unfortunately, literacy has decreased in the past few years, with more children in the world scoring below the minimum level of reading proficiency, as prescribed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. In 2019, the number of children with reading difficulties was 483 million; this year, in large part because of the pandemic, this increased by more than 20 percent to 584 million.
This poses a problem because literacy is essential for developing minds to fully engage with everyday life, where the written word is required for communication, comprehension, and navigating the world. Fortunately, there are several ways to spark a passion for reading in your child.
Practice reading aloud
The first step in the journey to getting a young reader to pick up a book on their own is to have them think of reading as a fun activity. One way to do this is by introducing creative books that are easy to read aloud. Books with rhyming passages are great examples that can engage children when reading aloud, so go with books such as The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander or We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom. Here are a few more poetry books to add to your child’s reading diet. As your child becomes more familiar with their favorite stories, they will eventually want to read along with you.
Continue reading aloud as your children get older by choosing books with varying difficulty levels. You can read and exchange passages from stories in various genres, whether it’s science fiction or the fantasy world of Harry Potter. Reading aloud makes the activity an engaging experience that will help fuel their passion for reading early on.
Set aside a book allowance
Once your children are old enough to receive an allowance, be sure to set aside some of that money specifically for books. This is an idea that comes from podcaster Sarah MacKenzie, who gives each kid in her family a monthly allotment of money to be used only for books. This is because a book allowance is a great opportunity to instill both a love for reading and financial responsibility. Giving kids an allowance can be a teachable experience as they can learn the true cost of things at a young age and will have to think about how to save for the books they want.
Ensure that you provide the book allowance consistently and find ways to make it more interactive, too. For instance, you can print out checks that your kids can fill up and exchange for cash whenever they want to purchase a new book.
It’s best to keep the book money separate from any other allowance, so figure out the average allowance per week before deciding on how much to add solely for literature. You may want to set reading goals with your child so you can provide them with enough to keep up with their monthly reading habits and eventual passion for books.
Create a reading nook
One effective way to encourage your children to read is to dedicate a space in your home to books and reading. Organized spaces allow children to discover books and be more attentive when it’s storytime. And contrary to popular belief, children also value quiet time when they are engrossed in activities like reading.
Aside from this reading nook, books should also be visible and easily accessible around your living space. Your home should be transformed into a space where reading is a regular activity. The kids will eventually learn that they can take any reading material back to the nook for some dedicated time for their new passion.
Be a good example
Children consider their parents/caregivers as reliable examples for everything, and this includes activities like reading. You can also act as a teacher, tutor, and mentor and help shape and broaden your child’s worldview through literature. By setting an example through reading, you also teach your child the value of lifelong learning.
Choosing books that are diverse, inclusive, and thought-provoking will set a good example for your little ones. And by discussing these books together at home, you can also teach your children empathy, whether it’s directed towards each other in the family, or to other people. Literature can teach children to be more accepting of differences and the reality that people come from all walks of life.
Reading is an indispensable skill that children should learn and develop a passion for early on. It will help them exercise mental and emotional capacities that will allow them to become well-adjusted and intelligent adults. But most of all, reading can break down barriers and build connections between children–an essential characteristic that will serve them well beyond their childhood.
Article contributed by Rebecca Jordan
Exclusively for readingpartners.org