Raise a reader

Try these 10 tips from The National Head Start Association.

Encourage a love of reading in your child with these suggestions from The National Head Start Association:

  1. Expand children's oral language. Depending on their skill level, children can read a story, have a story read to them or even take turns reading and listening. When the story is finished, invite your child to identify favorite parts of the story. Reading stories together enables children to have fun picking out words and deciding when to move to the next page.
  2. Read several stories every day to children. The more children are exposed to stories and other literary works, the more likely that reading will become part of their daily lives. With every story, a child is introduced to new concepts, phonemic awareness and much more.
  3. Teach children rhymes and songs. Growing up, we were all exposed to rhymes, jingles and songs. Many of them might resonate in our minds even today. Rhymes and songs are creative ways to encourage memorization, rhyming and melody with children. This is also a great way to introduce poetry and other creative writing styles. Families can sing together on trips, on walks or at the table as an after-dinner activity. Add hand gestures or dance moves to enrich the overall experience.
  4. Support reading and writing development through children's play. After a day of family fun, encourage your child to write a story about the experience. Or, sit down with your child and write a play. Gather friends and other family members to put on a show.
  5. Point at the words occasionally when you read with children. Pointing to words helps children understand that written words on a page stand for meanings they already know. It also shows two main goals of the Head Start program: that written words are associated with sounds, and that a word is a unit of print.
  6. Encourage children to experiment with writing every day. Promote writing in a fun way. Help your child keep a daily journal about their experiences. Encourage your child to write and mail a letter to a different family member every week, or even become a pen pal with a student from another neighborhood school. Children love to receive mail, and it will make your child's day to read her own name on the front of an envelope.
  7. Provide children a special area where they can experiment with print and books. Choose a place in the house designated for reading. Purchase a beanbag or a colorful chair to create an area that is inviting and fun. Books can be stored on a special bookshelf nearby. A unique environment is a helpful to encourage reading in reluctant readers.
  8. Be a literacy advocate by modeling reading and writing every day. Children learn by example in every realm of their life. If parents incorporate reading into their own lives, there will be a good chance their children will as well. Encourage your child to set reading goals and when they achieve them, give recognition and rewards.
  9. Encourage children to notice print and look at how words are read and spelled. When reading with your child, take turns noticing sounds, letters and their relationship to the meaning, both within the context of the sentence and the story as a whole. Correct letter formation and spelling will help children with their spelling and grammar tests.
  10. Set up a time each day for reading. Encourage a special time each day to enjoy books and writing. Both you and your child can read together or separately. Young children need as many special times with books and other literature as they can get.