Your role in developing kids’ interest in reading is pretty obvious, according to Julie Rodriguez, who is the Vice President Of Literary Services for Reading Is Fundamental, the country’s largest nonprofit devoted to promoting reading to young kids.
“I don’t even remember him not reading to me,” Rodriguez says of her own father, who she credits with getting her hooked early with Mark Twain books. “I know someone whose dad read baseball stats with his child. Share what you love, and increase their vocabulary.”
And the good news is that if you read (and clearly you do), the battle is half won. To win the other half, here are few other tips.
1. Do As Elementary School Teachers Suggest Long Before You Meet Their Elementary School Teacher
It’s never too soon to start reading to your kid. Apply these reading tips you’ll someday hear in parent/teacher conferences,
- Ritualise a reading time 5-7 days per week
- Alternate reading nights with your spouse to offer a new perspective and voice
- Get weird with the voices when you read
- Read when your kid’s around
- Visit the library regularly and let your kid select whatever they want
2. Don’t Complain About Reading The Same Books Over And Over
Rodriguez’s 3 kids could each read before kindergarten, and she attributes it to putting “miles on the page” with them on their favorite books: “They just need to hear it over and over again, point to the word, and have that access. It’s OK to read the same book 5,000 times.” Mind numbing and torturous for you, but OK.
3. Occasionally Read Them Something You Want To Read
Reserve a couple nights every week to put down the picture book you’ve read 5,000 times in favor of a classic you love. For Rodriguez’s dad, that meant not just Mark Twain, but Jack London and John Steinbeck and Ernest Hemingway. “They were far above what my little 6- or 5-year-old brain could handle, but I loved listening to him read it and that shared experience.”
4. Create Activities Around Elements In The Book
Rodriguez gives the example of A Balloon For Isabel about a forlorn porcupine who can’t get a balloon like the other kids because she’ll pop it, so Isabel solves the problem by putting gumdrops on her quills. Rodriguez created an entire lesson plan around balloon science experiments, but even if you just use the book as an excuse to stick gumdrops on toothpicks with your kid (and then eat them), you’ll be strengthening their connection to the book.
5. Or Just Try One Of These Titles
If Rodriguez was a gambler, she would put her money on any kid loving these 5 books:
- Froggy Gets Dressed: A frog gets dressed as your kid giggles at the word “underwear.”
- Wolf!: A wolf learns to read to impress his new farmyard friends instead of eating them.
- The Day The Crayons Quit: Crayons not only have feelings; they’re tired of working for your kid.
- Possum Come A-Knockin’: A possum plays ding-dong-ditch on a family of G-droppin’ country folk.
- Where The Wild Things Are: An impish boy overcomes punishment with megalomaniac delusions.
But, mostly, you just need to make sure you kid sees a page at least as often as they see a screen. And talk funny when you read to them. Do that enough, and it should be smooth sailing.
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