I remember my father always bringing us these beautiful and colorful books when he would return from his business trips. Oddly enough, he used to bring us those kids encyclopedias or other kinds of general knowledge books because he didn’t know much about story books then.
Now I was never a reader, but I always wanted my kids to read books. I remember when my oldest daughter was 6 months old and I bought her first baby book. I would read it to her in the afternoon right before her mid-day nap.
Fast forward a decade; now I have 3 kids and all of them love to read. Here is how I got my kids to love reading books.
Start reading to your baby as early as 6 months
We all know a 6 month old baby can’t read books, but you can find plenty of books for 6+ months old babies in the book store that they sure can appreciate. You can buy books like “My first words” or “My toys”. Babies this age are more intuitive than we think, and they can pick up a lot of things from these books that “resemble” their surroundings (it’s all about cerebral development and forming connections). Or, you can buy some of those cute song books of nursery rhymes and you can sing along too.
Different Types of books
You can find all types of books in the bookstore. For babies and toddlers buy small hardcover books or big books with lots of pictures and very little text, or those books that play music when you open them. You can also find water proof books for their bath time!
Read to them with expressions
I started to buy story books for my oldest when she was one year old. I used to do the dramatic reading I could manage, with all the expressions and exaggerated emotions and all, much like what the kids are used to see in cartoons. It will make them to connect with the book and make reading time more interesting.
Keep the books in their reach
Make a book corner, decorate it and keep the books at the place from where they’re always reachable to the kids. Soon enough you’ll start noticing that your child heads over to the book corner and grabs a book when they’re not in the mood for toys!
Fix the time for reading
Make book reading a habit and set up a crude schedule for reading time. When my daughter was 2 years old, I used to read her story books before her bed time at night. She was too young to read then, but she liked books so much that she would bring me her favorite story books to read.
Make your children relate to the books
When you start potty training your child, you absolutely HAVE to buy a book of potty training of your child’s favorite character or cartoon. Similarly if you are expecting another baby, or your child is starting their pre-school, or you visit the zoo for a family’s day out, or even if you are moving to another house, you can find children’s books on all these topics. Remember; a child’s mind is quick to form an attachment to things they are familiar with. Children can and will relate their lives to their books and then you can talk to your child about all the things they think reflect in their own lives.
Make library/ book store visits regular
We used to go to the book store every month and we would spend HOURS there to find some good books. We have been doing this since….always! And now, we go to the book shop every week because my girls love to read so much that they start reading their new books the day they buy it. And they can finish a book within one week!
Books vs Toys
Try to replace toys with books. Instead of buying them a toy present, buy their favorite story book or a story book of their favorite cartoon character. Instead of spending way too much in an attempt to expand their toy collection, spent some time to find and collect all the books of their favorite character and make a small library in their room. This way, you save money and help your kids form a productive habit. Two birds with one stone!
Let them choose
Whenever you go to the library or a book store, encourage them to choose their own books. If you force them to buy a book according to your liking, there is a chance that they will not read it and end up developing a dislike for reading. Don’t make it seem like a chore! When I try to give my 3 year old son books about colors or shapes or ABC’s, he simply rejects it and picks up something related to construction machines or PJ Masks (his favorite cartoon). Let them select what they like and they will devour it faster than you can imagine.
Read to your children
Even if your child is old enough to read, make time to read to your children. They will simply love you for it. Whenever I read to my 3 year old, my 7 year old always comes and sits with us. It’s a great way to spend time with your children. Talk to them about the story; ask them about their thoughts on it and little trivia questions about the plot. Invite them to explain what’s happening in the story. Don’t forget to encourage their questions and comments!
Give them a big cheer after they finish their book
Whenever My 7 year old daughter buys a new book, she comes home and starts reading it right away. And sure enough, after some time she comes up to me and tells me proudly that she already has finished her book. How you react to your kid’s achievements is VERY important. I congratulate her and always act surprised about her finishing her book so quickly. Always tell them that they have done a great job and how proud you are of them.
Don’t force them to read
If there’s one thing we know about kids, it’s that they’ll always do the opposite of what you pester them about. Don’t force your child to read if they want to play with their logos or paint instead. Let them make their own choices. Otherwise, they will start to dislike reading altogether. Let them decide when to read and what to read.
Reading is an excellent activity which helps children in increasing their knowledge and vocabulary. It’s a healthy habit far too often overlooked by parents and an opportunity far too valuable to not take advantage of.
They say that children imitate what they see. They are right. If we want our children to pick up the reading bug, we have to set examples in front to them to follow. If we keep using our electronic devices in front of them and hypocritically ask them to read more books, they are never going to do it. So, the next time you’re at the book store helping your kids pick out their books, pick one up for yourself and jump aboard the reading train!