September is National Literacy Month! To celebrate, here are some ways you can encourage a love of reading that extends far beyond this month. Read on for strategies to turn every child into a bookworm.
Give children autonomy
First and foremost, let your children choose the books they read. While there’s a time and place for assigned reading, kids should also be given ample opportunities to read the things they want to. It’s great to recommend specific books to your children and encourage them to tackle more challenging reads, but leave the ultimate decision up to them. Whether your children devour every book on space travel, horses, or soccer, reading is a great way for them to pursue their interests.
Furthermore, allow your kids to explore various reading levels, genres, and formats. Sometimes they’ll select books that fall short of our definition of “literature” or choose comic books, but that’s OK! The point is to develop a love of the written word, and that can come in many different forms.
Your children will pick up on the value of books through your own actions. For young children, read aloud to them. Use rhythm and tone, as well as distinct voices for characters, to draw children into a story. With older kids, set aside time for your family to read independently in the same room and to have informal discussions about what each family member likes and dislikes in their current selections.
Most importantly, carve out time for pleasure reading. If you make reading a part of your daily routine, it will be easier for your children to do the same.
Create reading space
One of the simplest ways to encourage reading is to make sure your children always have access to plenty of reading material. You can set up a small library or reading nook with a variety of books that pique your kids’ interest. Make this space as inviting as possible so they want to spend time there—even a small bookshelf with a few seat cushions can create a safe haven to read.
Introduce new reading material
There’s something to be said for the power of novelty. Regularly introducing new books to your library can whet a young reader’s appetite. A tantalizing new book just might encourage your child to move up to a higher reading level. To keep things budget-friendly, take your children on trips to the local library or second-hand bookstore so they can pick out stories that catch their eye.
Do you have other ideas for developing lifelong readers? Share them in the comments below!