Do you love to read? What about your kids? As homeschool parents, we should desire to develop a love of reading in our children. Learning to read and a love of reading will be beneficial to your kids in so many ways!
Why Reading Matters
- Reading is a great way to explore the world and its cultures without leaving home.
- Books can foster a child’s imagination.
- Reading gives us insight into others’ hearts and souls and allows us to learn sympathy and empathy.
- Reading books is a far better “escape mechanism” than drugs, alcohol, shopping therapy, and the like.
- Good reading skills will help your children become independent learners.
- Reading provides pathways for curious minds.
- Reading allows us to pursue information and draw our own conclusions, rescuing us from a “follow the crowd” mentality.
- True spiritual growth requires good reading skills.
How to Develop a Love of Reading in your Children
Read Aloud to Them
Read books to your children. Start when they are infants and then continue! Please continue reading to your children even when they are school-aged. Let your kids get lost in the story, totally absorbed by the characters in the book.
- Choose great stories.
- Stop reading for the day at critical points in the story.
- Read to them for fun, not as an assignment.
- Let them draw or play quietly while you read to them. They are still paying attention!
- Don’t hide emotion while you are reading to them. If something is funny, laugh with them and the story. And, it is okay to cry while reading a book – I do it way too often.
Model a Love for Reading
Be a reading role-model. Let them see you read and enjoy books. Show them that you value the ability to read.
- Talk with them about the books you read.
- Talk about what books they are reading.
- Discuss ideas from books together.
- Instead of watching movies or TV, read!
- Never leave home without a book – Teach that to your kids, and you may spare yourself much complaining about having to wait!
Teach Necessary Reading Skills
Kids will never develop a love of reading if they don’t have the skills they need to read independently. So, work with them to develop the necessary skills to enjoy independent reading.
- Be sure your kids learn the phonics and decoding skills to read independently.
- Teach them to use their decoding skills to put sounds together to make words.
- Teach them to use a dictionary (printed or online) to check correct word pronunciation and meaning.
Choose Books According to Their Interests
Help your children select books that would interest them. Books that relate to their interests will spur them on to read more.
- Be aware of what your kids are interested in.
- Provide books that are well-written with captivating illustrations or photographs.
- Let them choose their own books, at least some of the time. At the least, give them some options to choose from. Example: I know you love dinosaurs. Here are several books about dinosaurs. Choose the three you think you will like the most.
Provide Books on Their Level of Reading Ability and Understanding.
Not only do you want to provide books for your children based on their interests, but you should also try to select books that are both age and reading level-appropriate. You can stretch their reading abilities and skills during instruction times, but books for pleasure should be chosen based on their ability levels in reading.
- Choose books that are not too hard for them to read.
- Select books that they can understand.
- Just because they can read a certain book doesn’t mean that they should read that book. The books they read should be age-appropriate for them.
- Use wisdom and discretion in book choices. Pay attention to the subject matter. Not all subject matter is appropriate for all ages. Some concepts are better to read about and discuss together. (Examples might be suicide, mental illness, divorce, abuse, etc.)
Talk about Books and What They Have Read/Enjoyed
Talk together about the books they read. Learn what types of books your children have enjoyed reading. Did the other children enjoy those same books?
- Discuss new or troubling concepts or ideas in the books.
- Learning about the books they enjoy most will help you find other books that will interest them.
- On the other hand, if your kids read the same types of books all the time, you can help them branch out and expand their reading horizons.
Build Reading into your Daily Schedule.
Reading should be enjoyable and pleasurable. Include some time for pleasure reading, not just part of schoolwork. Reading done for school assignments should be different from reading for enjoyment.
- Set aside time for pleasure reading. Does Mom need an afternoon nap or time with a baby? Designate that as quiet time or reading time. Give each child some books to read, set a timer, and all the kids must stay quiet and read until the timer goes off.
- Maybe a younger child needs a “rest time” during the day but is too old for a nap. Sit him/her in bed with a stack of books and a timer. Maybe he will “read” a book or two and then fall asleep. Or, perhaps, he will sit and look at books the entire time.
- You could set aside a half-hour before bedtime as reading time. Get the kids ready and in bed, let them read for 30 minutes or so, and then come and turn out the lights.
Make Library Trips a Part of Your Routine.
Consider trips to the library as adventures. You are going off to explore unknown places – who knows where you will end up! Your trip to the library might take you to China, or the Antarctic, perhaps to India or Australia. Maybe you will meet inventors or musicians, adventurers, and explorers, politicians, or ordinary people. Your library adventure might take you face-to-face with lions and tigers. Who knows?
- Routine trips to the library will help avoid the “I don’t have anything to read” complaints as well as the “I’m bored” comments.
- Regular library visits will also prevent accumulating library fines! (Although, I have read that more and more libraries are doing away with fines now.)
- Libraries are more than just books. Libraries have games, videos, music, even tools and kitchen items available for checking out.
- Regular trips to the library will also help with school assignments and research.
Good reading skills will help your kids learn anything they need to know. Develop a love of learning in your kids and see where that takes them!
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