It’s long established in science and research: a child who comes to school with a large vocabulary does better than the child who comes to school with a low vocabulary. All of our children learn to read in their own time. The question is HOW to get them to read. Here are several helpful suggestions for raising a reader.
Step 1. Talk, talk, talk!
Children hear the most words in conversation. There is always something you can say to your children. It’s all about words. It doesn’t matter if your child is too young to respond. What matters is the sound of your voice. Narrate your day for them. The more words a child understands the more successful her future can be. According to the New York Times, “research has shown that the number of words an infant is exposed to has a direct impact on language development and literacy. Here’s the catch: The language has to be live, in person and directed at the child.”
Step 2. Read aloud to your children, every day.
Carve out time from your busy day to read aloud to your children, no matter their ages. Reading aloud to your children allows you to connect with them in a direct way. It helps them develop their vocabulary and their language skills. It helps them learn to listen. The language is more complicated, more sophisticated in books, newspapers, and magazines, A child who hears more sophisticated words has a giant advantage over a child who hasn’t heard those words.
Also, try audio books. This is great for rest time, long car rides, downtime at home, or just when you’re too tired to talk. Audiobooks allow children to hear books above their reading level.
Step 3. Visit the library early and often.
If you can get your child hooked on books, she will discover worlds of knowledge. Visit the library for story time and book recommendations. If your child is interested in a subject, indulge them. Find books and reading materials on related topics. One summer I read aloud the book “Call of the Wild” to my boys. Their interest in the story led us to the library where we found books on the Klondike Gold Rush, dog sledding, the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, and the indigenous people of Yukon. If you don’t know which books would interest your child, check out some recommended reading lists by age, grade and award lists.
This year set a goal to read a minimum of 20 minutes each day to your child.