Family

Make your child a keen reader

You don’t have to search far to find research which proves that reading to children when they are babies has huge benefits for their communication skills, vocabulary and word comprehension. And it’s such an easy thing to do. Almost anyone can pick up a baby and spend some time reading to them, even older siblings, and pretty soon you’ll find your baby will start bringing you their favourite books to read. Before long, you’ll have successfully raised a child who has a lifelong interest in books. Here are some tips on how to raise readers in your household.

AN EVERYDAY ACTIVITY

Read to your child every day. We are all busy and the thought of reading a bookout loud can feel like the last thing you want to do after a day at the office, but it need only take 10 minutes and I can guarantee that you’ll find it relaxing and an enjoyable few minutes of bonding with your child. Start when your child is a baby. A nice thing to do is schedule book time just before they go to bed at night. If you’re really stretched for time and you have older children, ask one of them to stand in for you.

No EXCUSES!

Don’t make excuses. Your child might be a sports star in the making and “not good with words” but that doesn’t mean he or she can’t be interested in books or that they won’t need good reading skills when they’re the next David Beckham or Irene van Dyk. There are plenty of sporting books around.

LoAN STARS

Use your library. Libraries are no longer the kind of place where everyone tells you to be quiet. In fact, they are well-equipped with special areas for children and some have regular storytime sessions you can attend with your child. When your child is old enough, make sure you visit once a week and get them their own card so that they borrow and return their own books.

A oATTER oF TASTE

Help your child find books which suit them. Just because a book has won a million awards and prizes, doesn’t mean your child will like it. Let them find books that suit their taste. You wouldn’t want to have to read a World War II biography instead of the latest chick lit, so why expect kids to read something that won’t interest them?

CooICS Do CoUNT

Let them read what they like even if you don’t approve. There are some people who believe that the only books worth reading are classic novels, while comics and stories about ponies, fairies and mutant turtles are rubbish. Forget it. The important thing is that your child reads something. If they don’t connect with what they’re reading, they won’t get into the habit, so let them enjoy comics if they want.

BooK A SPACE

Designate a reading place in your house. Reading in front of TV isn’t going to work, unless, of course, you switch it off. Have a cosy couch or an area in your house where members of your family can sit and read uninterrupted. Make sure there is good lighting and a big bookshelf nearby.

SWITCHING oFF

Experiment with turning off the computers and TV and allocating a period of time when everyone just sits and reads. It doesn’t have to be for the whole evening, but that could be something to aim for. Maybe an hour after dinner before you all sit down to your favourite show. You might find your child prefers to keep reading, and that will be a very good day indeed.

HELLo, GooD BUY

Make bookshops fun. oost bookshops have great areas for children and letting your child choose a book and take it home can be a wonderful experience for them. I know many adults who refuse to let go of books they enjoyed in childhood and your child will be able to revisit their favourite books over and over again.

IN THE PICTURE

Do use popular movies to attract your child to books. If they loved the Harry Potter films, then remember they started as books, as did many children’s movies.

LoVE AT FIRST SITE

Encourage your child to visit the websites of their favourite authors and take an interest in the process of writing. oany sites also have great games for the kids.

WoRD FoR WoRD

Buy a good dictionary. Kids seem to find a great deal of satisfaction in looking up a word to see what it means and they’re learning good research skills while they are at it.

  • Wendyl Nissen

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