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5 ways to help your kids learn to love books

By: Robin Stevenson

iStock/monkeybusinessimages Author: Canadian Living Credits: iStock/monkeybusinessimages

Family

5 ways to help your kids learn to love books

By: Robin Stevenson
Learning to read is one of the biggest milestones for children, but developing this skill and enjoying it are two different things. Many parents are stumped when their child appears to be a reluctant reader so we asked Wendy Wayling, children's librarian at Westmount Public Library in Westmount, Que., to share her top tips for raising eager readers.

1. Allow kids to choose their own books.
"I always try to encourage parents to let children read what they want," says Wayling. Giving children the opportunity to walk through a library and choose their own books to take home is a very powerful experience, she says. "You can see the excitement when a child comes to the desk with his or her chosen books and his or her very own library card." Your child's choices are also a good indicator of what subjects they currently enjoy. You might be surprised to find that the fairy stories she once loved are out and non-fiction books about animals are in.
 
2. Embrace picture books.
With so much emphasis on mastering reading levels, some parents discourage their kids from selecting books designed for beginners. "A good book is a good book, no matter how old you are," says Wayling. "I read picture books all the time—you can never be too old to enjoy good literature." Reading picture books can help kids understand sequencing, and recognizing familiar words in them can build confidence. "Kids will move on when they are ready," adds Wayling. Age-appropriate comic books or graphic novels may also appeal to kids who find it challenging to get through large blocks of text. "There are some amazing comic books for children with great stories and superb illustrations," Wayling notes.

3. Read old favourites.
Though it may be tempting to ask "that book again?" remember that your child is choosing to read. And with each reread your child will likely improve his or her word comprehension. Kids who know a book well may even be able to lead a discussion about it, says Wayling.

4. Read aloud.
"I think that this is one of the most important things a parent can do to foster a love of reading in their child," says Wayling. Parents may think kids should outgrow this stage, but Wayling suggests continuing to read aloud with kids even into their teens. With so many distractions such as TVs and smartphones vying for your child's attention—and yours too—spending time focusing on the moment can be lovely. "I still read out loud with my 14-year-old," says Wayling. "It is a different experience than reading on your own and it can be such a wonderful bonding experience."

5. Encourage your child to join a book club.
A book club is not like school, says Wayling. "It is a way for children to discuss their love (and sometimes hate) of all sorts of books with other children of various ages." At her branch's book club the librarians encourage kids to read a variety of genres, but they aren't pushy about it. "I would rather have them enjoy what they are reading without making it an issue," says Wayling. Book clubs are a good way for kids to try different types of books. Sometimes they need another child to tell them to try something new."

Looking for books to share with your child? We've got 10 books for reluctant readers. Or if your son is struggling in school, here's how to help him.
 
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5 ways to help your kids learn to love books

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