If you want your child to be an enthusiastic reader, then there is only one surefire way to make sure that your child loves reading…read together. If you want your child to become a reader you need to expose him or her frequently and continually to literature—of any kind.
The trick is that the books can’t just be there; you need to make the time to actually select and read the books together. However, simply reading the book isn’t quite enough, either. You need to discuss the book and stories and be sure to engage the child in the process. Ask questions about what you read to help your child begin to learn to derive meaning from the words.
Ask questions such as, “Why did Mortimer get out of bed?” and challenge your child to think beyond the level of the story. “What do you think his Mommy would think about that?”
By asking questions about the story you help your child develop a deeper understanding of the material.
From the moment infants begin to comprehend their environment, they are also learning language. Babies are continually exposed to words and sounds, and they are always absorbing and processing the basic sound structures of our language. Whether or not they are aware of it, they are actively building the foundation of their literacy skills.
Because they have been learning language since birth, children as young as three (and sometimes even younger) are well prepared to begin to learn the formal rules of our language. They are ready to learn to read, so this is the perfect time to begin to help them become life-long readers. Studies show that the earlier that children learn to read and write, the stronger students they become.
The elementary school years are a critical time to develop attitudes about books and reading. These are the years that children become readers, so it’s important to introduce and maintain good reading routines during this stage.
During these critical years, children can develop strong associations that may follow them for the rest of their lives.
Children need positive role models to help them model their behaviors. Whether it is an admired teen, a favorite grandparent, a neighbor, or even an older sibling, a child needs a good reading role model, because the associative power of a positive reading experience can help shape a child’s attitude about books and reading for the rest of his or her life.
At the high school level, extra-curricular reading may seem like a luxury, when in fact, it’s a necessity. In high school, avid readers have an advantage over other non-reading students for the simple reason that they are more likely to have a better vocabulary.
The more that students read, the more new words they are exposed to, and thus the bigger their vocabulary. This is a benefit to students because vocabulary, comprehension, and school performance are related. For instance, while writing a test, a student comes across a sight passage. The more words that student knows, the more that student will comprehend the meaning and the nuances of the passage, and the better that student will perform on questions about the passage. Reading also exposes the student to different styles and genres of writing, which is a great help on essays.