Reading isn’t always easy to do with young kids. How can parents make reading fun and not a chore or a routine?
It starts with parents.
Parents can share their love of reading with their little ones. Reading to kids can help benefit the parent-child bond. Use reading aloud to help children manage stress and give them a break from the chaotic world around them. Reading children’s stories together can give a child a release from the anxieties and worries of daily life.
When parents are reluctant readers, children tend to mimic their hesitancy. Find ways to enjoy reading with your children, but also in your personal time. No matter the age, kids learn by watching their caregivers. Reading can be a fun, enriching experience for adults and kids alike!
Try a routine change-up.
If you struggle to find time to read, try changing up your routine. Perhaps you can listen to audiobooks instead of reading traditional books, pick shorter things to read like magazines or news articles, or you can download books to your phone or tablet to read while your little one plays independently or naps.
Reading promotes imagination, stress relief, and relaxation – so it is important for parents to develop a personal love of reading for their children to learn from.
Reading aloud is vital for a child’s social-emotional development.
Reading can help facilitate deep conversations with kids. There are many books about difficult topics, including mental health. Public libraries are a great way to explore new books and encourage kids to read about new topics.
Early childhood literacy is essential for a child’s development. Through reading aloud, children are exposed to language and expression. They might hear new vocabulary words and concepts.
Children learn through repetition.
Even if it seems frustrating to read the same story over and over again, children thrive on repetition. Parents can build on cognitive skills by asking questions while they read. If your child seems stuck on one particular book, try to make each reading unique and fun by changing up your voice, asking your child to turn the pages, talking about the illustrations, or coming up with games to play while you read the story.
Reading skills begin in early childhood.
Even before a child enters school and learns to read from his teacher, he can watch and observe while reading with his family. A love for reading can begin even while your child is still an infant!
For children under age 2:
For babies and toddlers, the practice of reading is important. Make reading aloud for at least 15 minutes a day a part of your routine. Babies and toddlers might starting bringing you a book to read during play time. Reading to babies and toddlers is not forced learning, but instead a bonding experience.
For babies and toddlers who don’t yet have a large vocabulary, parents should read with enthusiasm and drama. Reading with a young child should involve joy and laughter. Reading isn’t just about learning or memorization, it’s important for family relationships.
For children between ages 3 and 5:
Reading can help develop social-emotional skills and early literacy skills that are necessary for beginning preschool and kindergarten.
Preschoolers and young children can benefit from incorporating reading during drives (keep a few books stashed in the car for when you get stuck in traffic!), making story time a part of the nightly routine, and reading during different parts of the day such as transitions.
Pick books that appeal a young reader. Books should have bright, bold, big illustrations and not too many words per page. Observe what your child is reading during independent play, and buy a few more stories within his interests (trucks, animals, trains, music, history, math, colors).
Read aloud to your child during the nightly bedtime routine, but also throughout the day. Keep books accessible to your child during independent play, and watch what books they gravitate towards. Sometimes a toddler that seems like a reluctant reader might be more inclined to explore books on their own during free play.
Between ages 3 and 5, children start to develop early literacy skills that will become the foundation for reading. Making reading time a fun, exciting part of your day can help your child develop a love of books. Practice using different voices and make reading fun by being silly and playing games while you read.
Here are 6 tips for making reading fun:
1. Read in the car
If your child has a difficult time reading at home or at school, that might be a sign that you need to change the way you approach reading. Not every child is able to peacefully sit and listen to a teacher or parent read a pile of books.
Audiobooks are a wonderful way for parents and children to enjoy stories together, without the traditional paper book in front of them. If you spend a lot of time in the car, audiobooks might be the way to go!
You can find audiobooks at the library, from other parents, or even online. Listening to an audiobook allows your child to focus on the narrator’s voice and intonation, without being distracted by words and pictures on a page.
Many audiobooks come with the accompanying physical book, so your child might enjoy flipping through the book in the car while listening to the reader’s voice narrating the story.
2. Make story time a part of your routine
Reading doesn’t have to be a chore or something to check off of a to-do list. Reading aloud should be fun, enthusiastic, and lively. Storytelling is a way to share ideas and knowledge and is one of the primary ways kids learn.
Although children will read many books at school, a love for reading often starts with the family. Make reading an ordinary part of family life, especially while your kids are young.
Kids thrive on repetition, so incorporate reading into your daily routine. Whether it’s a quick story during breakfast or reading a few bedtime books as your child drifts off to sleep, children of all ages can enjoy time to read throughout the day.
3. Read during meals
Reading doesn’t have to be something that only happens during the bedtime routine. Incorporate reading fun into your day by reading during mealtime!
Grab a fun book or two and engage your kids during a relaxed meal. If you have a reluctant reader, switching up your routine can really help. Make reading fun by changing up your voice, acting out the story, or asking your child questions during the reading time.
Since children are already sitting at the table for a meal, you’ve already got a ready audience! Pick a book that is engaging, exciting, and full of interesting pictures. Turn off the television, put away the video games or tablets, and read aloud during a meal.
4. Allow kids to wiggle and move
Children need to move around constantly. If your child seems like a reluctant reader, it might just be that he has difficulty sitting quietly during story time.
If you have a reader that has a difficult time staying engaged, pick a book that contains parts to act out or that involve some type of movement. Keep your child’s attention by asking him to turn the pages, point to an object on the page, or open flaps.
You can also create a reading corner for your child with comfort items such as fluffy blankets, pillows like the KeaBabies Toddler Pillow, and simple art supplies. A tent or a beanbag chair can be fun items to include in the reading corner.
Allow your child to move freely throughout the room while you read, as long as they are still paying attention. Young readers need to wiggle and roam – but that doesn’t mean they’re not listening! Grab a basket full of quiet fidget activities for your child to rummage through while you’re reading. It might make story time more fun for them!
5. Combine art and reading
One of the best ways to make reading fun for kids is to combine art and books. Finding a simple art activity to do in correlation with your child’s favorite book can be a great way to foster an early love of reading.
There are many reading tips and art project ideas available online, and some books even contain examples of projects or activities to do alongside the reading. Kids learn through repetition, so being creative with an art activity that goes along with the book can be a helpful way for kids to learn.
6. Visit the library
The local library is a great resource to find free books on a variety of subjects for a variety of ages. A librarian can help parents choose books that suit their child’s comprehension level and vocabulary. They might also have some tips for how to encourage your child to read independently!
Incorporate public library visits into your monthly calendar. Knowing what day the library visit will occur on will create a sense of excitement and anticipation. Even a baby or toddler can enjoy a library. There are board books to look through and many libraries have weekly story times for babies and toddlers.
A library visit is a great way to expand your child’s love of reading. They can search through shelves of books on different topics, scanning through pictures and book series, and choosing a special new book or two to take home and enjoy.
Most libraries have a designated children’s section full of colorful, exciting books for all ages. Some even have games, computers, puzzles, and toys that would make any kid happy! Early literacy can be fostered in so many ways – even just playing at the library.
Even reluctant readers can have fun at the library. Some children are nervous to read at school and say that they don’t enjoy reading at home. Make reading fun by creating a sense of newness and adventure. Let your child pick out a certain number of books (or audiobooks), and read those books together at home.
Through sifting through free books from the library, parents can figure out what their child’s unique interests are and purchase books along those themes. Some children prefer picture books, some enjoy audio books, some love reading book series, and some like graphic novels. Each kid is different, so parents should watch their children for ideas on what kinds of stories they prefer.
Reading can be fun and enjoyable.
Make the experience fun when your child is reading. Look up reading tips from parenting blogs or other resources, check out some books from the local library, and get your kids excited about literacy.
Through the cycle of repetition and novelty, kids of any age can become an experienced, curious reader.
Meet Our KeaMommy Contributor: Kaitlyn Torrez
I’m Kaitlyn Torrez, from the San Francisco Bay Area. I live with my husband and two children, Roman and Logan. I’m a former preschool teacher, currently enjoying being a stay at home mom. I love all things writing, coffee, and chocolate. In my free time, I enjoy reading, blogging, and working out.