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The First Step in
Teaching Children to Read
is to Encourage Reading


As a first step in teaching children to read, below you will find some ideas to encourage reading with and in our children.

Some of these ideas are very simple and basic, but just maybe there are some ideas listed here that you haven't thought of.  And remember, the biggest encouragement comes from us -- the parents within the home.  Children who come from a home where the parents read personally, value reading, and have reading material readily available are much more likely to become readers themselves.

  • Make books available and accessible.  Children who become readers almost always come from homes where books and other reading materials are present throughout the house.  Don't put your children's books out of the way where your child cannot see them or cannot reach them himself.  Remember babies, toddlers, and preschoolers are small.  Put the books near the floor, within their reach.
  • Read yourself.  Modeling to your children is one of the best ways of teaching children to read.  If your children see that you read, you choose to read, and you enjoy reading, they are more likely to develop the same habit and pursue the same activity.
  • Don't forget to give books as gifts at birthday time, holiday time, or whenever.  There are so many inexpensive, good books out there and something given or received as a gift becomes more valuable and cherished.  My children routinely receive books as gifts from their grandmother, and they get so excited when they see her coming with them.  My children value books because they are valued by the important people in their lives.
  • Make reading fun!  Something that is enjoyable is favored.  Act out stories, use different voices, and most importantly use enthusiasm.  Presentation can be everything.  A boring reader makes for a boring story no matter how exciting the story may really be.  You might just find that you are having more fun as well.
  • Read frequently.  Offer to read to young children everyday, even several times a day.  Encourage older independent readers to read everyday as well, and engage them in conversation about what they're reading.
  • Turn off the television and provide quiet time.  Turning off the television forces our children to "find something else to do" and too much television can have a harmful affect on a develolping younger child, especially when it comes to teaching children to read.
  • Take your children to the library on a weekly or monthly visit, so they can choose their own books.  My older son routinely asks "when can we go to the library" if we haven't gone it a while.  He really enjoys being able to pick out his very own books.
  • Remember that comic books and magazines are a great way to encourage reading and are very useful in teaching children to read. Books on tape and CD are also an excellent choice to encourage reading.
  • Take your children to free story-time at your local library, local bookstores, or where ever else they are offered in your town.  Sometimes hearing an animated reader read a story how the author intended makes all the difference in the world for teaching children to read.
  • Read chapter books. A good chapter book will entice a reader and make them want to come back for more and find out how the story ends.
  • Use movie or video tie-ins. Maybe your child likes Caillou or the Berenstain Bears or is a Thomas the Tank Engine fan.  Use your child's interest to your benefit and read books that tie in to these characters.
  • Use your child's favorite nursery rhymes.  Maybe your child really likes "The Itsy Bitsy Spider."  Find the book and read it.
  • Above all, make your read aloud sessions fun. This is a great start to teaching children to read because children love to make sound effects, so add them wherever you can when you read aloud.  For example, in Cinderella we always make the sound of the clock chiming as it strikes midnight "dong....dong...dong." We make knocking sounds as we read the Three Little Pigs when the wolf knocks on each of the three little pigs' doors. The kids really seem to like this added interaction and activity as we read. There are countless opportunities to make sounds and add another fun dimension with each story you read.

Encouraging reading is really an easy thing to do and there are so many benefits of teaching children to read that are derived from reading to our children that we as adults and parents need to make sure we do so!



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