The New York Times published an excellent article last month entitled, “How to Raise a Reader.” You might find the article at your library in the Book Review section. It is worth the effort. Here are some highlights from “How to Raise a Reader.”
Become a reader yourself. If you have let your reading habit slip, reacquaint yourself with the print world.
Read aloud to your infant. Your reading material might be a medical journal or Dr. Seuss. The content doesn’t matter to an infant. What does matter is that you make eye contact with your child, use voice inflection, and read in the normal rhythms of your language. If the baby responds with baby sounds, respond in kind.
Read aloud to your toddler. Encourage your child to link the sound of your voice reading to him with strong, positive emotions. Read at bedtime and during daytime too. Offer your child variety in picture books, but respect his or her preferences, even if that means reading “Go, Dog, Go” night after night. When the child interrupts, that shows he is engaged. Stop and respond. Finishing a book isn’t all that important at this age nor is reading every word.
Continue to read aloud to your emerging reader. Once your child shows interest in letters and words, keep reading to him or her. Encourage her to join in, but don’t pull back now. She shouldn’t think of reading as work. She should think of it as fun. Allow your child to develop reading skills at her own pace, but if you suspect problems, follow through with her teacher.
Continue to read aloud to your early reader. Take him or her to the library or book store. Expand his selections from fiction to nonfiction. Ask him and his friends what they are reading and discuss their preferences. Let your child stay up a bit later if she reads in bed. If your child prefers comic books or graphic novels, or if he wants to read about his favorite video game, be thrilled. He’s reading.
Stash reading materials throughout the house. On the coffee table, in the bathroom, or in the bedroom, show off books, magazines and other reading materials to encourage reading.
Help your child build a personal library. Make a bookcase part of the child’s bedroom or a children’s section of books part of your home library. Give books as gifts and rewards. Bring home armloads of books from the library. Celebrate your child’s first library card with family stories of other first library cards.
This wonderful New York Times article goes on to describe the kinds of books children are ready for at different times in their lives. Enjoy.