The earlier you start the better; even the youngest child can look at the pictures, listen to your voice and turn pages. Research shows what common sense tells us: the more children read, the better they are at reading and the more pleasure they get from reading. The reverse also holds true: children who read very little usually have poor reading skills. Reading is a struggle for them, and they avoid it whenever possible.
Continue reading aloud to older children
Even when children have learned to read by themselves it is still a good idea to read to them aloud. You might also want to encourage them to read to you some of the time, or to read to younger brothers and sisters. This shared enjoyment will continue to strengthen your child’s enjoyment and appreciation of reading.
Talk to your child
Listen to children as they talk with you (and not just about books). Good speaking and listening skills are fundamental to learning to read. Play games that encourage careful listening to the sounds in words and looking for letter patterns. Your child may enjoy singing songs and nursery rhymes; this is a good way of developing an awareness not only of the sounds in words, but rhythm and rhyme too.
Be a reading role model
Let your child see you reading for pleasure in your spare time, and share some interesting things with them that you have read about in books, newspapers or magazines.
Make sure your child has plenty to read.
Take children to the library regularly, explore the children’s section together and ask the librarian for any books they can recommend. Don’t forget that magazines, newspapers, catalogues, travel brochures, match day programmes, sports reports, websites, ‘how to….’ manuals, recipe books and comic books can also provide interesting reading material.
Notice what interests your child
Use their interests and hobbies as a starting point for reading.
Respect your child’s choices.
Don’t try to persuade your child to finish a book they don’t like, recommend putting the book aside and trying another one. On the other hand, if you have a child who loves reading books about football, let them read as many as they like!
Help your child build a personal library.
Children’s books, new or used, make great gifts and are good rewards for reading. Set aside a special place for your child to store their books, and encourage them to build up a collection of books that are special to them.
Show your child you are interested in their reading.
Listen to them read aloud, and praise their newly acquired skills. When your child reads aloud, don’t feel they have to get every word right, even good readers skip words or pronounce them wrongly now and then.
Go places and do things with your child
This is a good way to build children’s background knowledge and vocabulary, and to give them a basis for understanding what they read. Good readers constantly make links between what they read and their personal experiences. The richer the child’s life experiences, the better chance they have of understanding a wide range of texts.
It’s a fun way to teach story structure, pass on family history and build your children’s listening and thinking skills.
Check out your board games for games that require players to read spaces, cards and directions, and look out for spelling games like Scrabble or Boggle.
Show your child that reading can be useful,
Demonstrate to your children why reading is useful, for example it can be a way to gather information for making paper aeroplanes, learning about skateboards or planning a holiday.