When a child is younger, he or she may love nothing more than to sit on his or her parent’s lap and read a story. But many times, a child’s love of reading fades as he or she gets older. Each age group has different struggles when it comes to reading; here are some ways to maintain a love of reading in a child of any age.
Preschool-age is often the age when a love of reading is ignited, and it’s the most important point in your children’s development as readers. Many preschoolers want to move constantly, so it can be difficult to get them to sit still and enjoy a book. But, if you allow your preschoolers to take ownership of their reading, you can keep them engaged and nurture a love of reading.
Put your preschoolers in charge of the whole reading experience. Let them pick the books at the library, decide the pace of the reading and generally ‘run the show'. If they want to read the same book repeatedly, that’s fine. The increased familiarity with the story and the words will build their confidence as readers.
Be aware of your preschoolers’ interests and surprise them with books about things they love. They will be more likely to pursue reading and be eager to learn the words. They can then take those words and craft their own stories, so be sure to encourage storytelling in your home.
Elementary school students vary in their development as readers. Younger elementary students may need help reading, while older elementary students can easily read independently. To encourage your elementary students to pick up books, make reading a family experience. Set aside time for everyone to read. You can read with younger students or set an example for older ones by reading alone.
Encourage siblings to read to each other and to share what they’ve read independently with the rest of the family. For older children, find a book series they enjoy and encourage them to read the entire collection. Make books something to be valued by giving them as gifts and creating special spaces in your child’s room for them.
It’s tempting to schedule busy days for elementary school students, but leave some time free from extracurricular activities so that they can spend time reading. As your elementary students develop, encourage them to read everything from text on cereal boxes to billboards.
Junior High School
Many of the elementary school tips can be used with Junior High School students, but it may take more effort to reignite a love of reading in a junior high student. As your children get older and their schedules get busier, keep books and magazines in the car that they can read between school and soccer practice. To make sure your children continue to discuss and analyze what they read, consider creating a family book club. There are a number of young adult books that are enjoyable for students and adults.
Combine reading and physical activity by reading plays together. Putting on a show can help your children understand that reading can be more than silently reading a textbook or a novel.
Remember that junior high students are beginning to understand independence and may want to do their own thing. Keep TV out of your children’s rooms so that when they want to be alone, they will be more likely to pick up a book than flip through channels.
Senior High School
When your children enter Senior High School, they will encounter an increased amount of reading in their homework, especially if they pursue AP classes, and may be too busy with extracurricular activities and assigned reading to pick up a book for pleasure. Don’t put too much pressure on your children to go beyond their assigned reading during the school year, but help them schedule their time wisely so they will have time for leisure reading, if desired.
Encourage reading for pleasure by your own example. Your children are getting old enough to read many of the books that you enjoy, so start a book exchange. You can read the novels they enjoyed for class during the school year, and they can read some of the novels you’ve enjoyed after work. (In sophomore year, for example, he or she could trade his or her copy of Les Miserables for your copy of Much Ado About Nothing.)
Whatever you do to encourage a love of reading in your home, remember that you set the example. It’s most important for your children to see that you make reading a priority if you want them to make it a priority.
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