Making Reading Fun and Consistent for Small Children

The key is to follow a reading schedule

Smiling mother reading to son on sofa
Smiling mother reading to son on sofa. Getty Images/Shestock/Blend Images

Making reading fun starts in the preschool years. When children are toddlers, childcare providers strongly urge parents to have their children read, or be read to, regularly. This includes summer months, holiday breaks or any time when school is out.

Children who build on their reading skills or are read to daily won't fall behind when school is out of session. Children who stop reading during breaks in the school year typically have to play catch-up in the classroom, which can set the stage for a challenging year.

Families Can Take the Initiative

Childcare providers and family members can do their part to foster a love of reading into children through fun activities. Parents should ask whether their daycare center or care provider reads to children daily. If not, ask providers to start a story hour. Give your child the opportunity to read with My First Reading Club, a monthly subscription service that shares the joy of reading with children by delivering 3 books specially selected based on the child’s age and parents’ preferences.

Older kids who no longer take naps often find enjoyment in reading right after lunch, traditionally considered "quiet time." Parents can set an hour each evening for books; older kids can read in their room, read to their parents or even to younger siblings. Younger children always enjoy being read a story on a topic of interest to them.

Reading should never be perceived as a chore.

With these tips, parents and childcare providers can encourage children to read in a positive manner.

Take Advantage of Weather Conditions

In warm weather, read to children next to a pond or lake, under a tree, by the pool or even in the tree house. One mother reads to her young child in their blow-up children's pool in the backyard during the summer months.

Another mom finishes the much-anticipated daily trip to the park in the spring or fall by reading a book before they leave.

During cold months, parents and caregivers can read children books about snowmen, snowfalls, winter holidays or sports such as ice skating. Daycare centers or childcare providers can add reading fun into the mix by tying it into a planned activity for the week. If the theme for the week is "Under the Sea," then the books can be about the ocean or fish.

Consider a Reading Series

Countless book series are tailored to children of certain ages. If children like one of these books, there's a high likelihood they will enjoy others about the same characters. Popular book series feature Bob the Builder and Dr. Seuss characters. Other series chronicle beginning school for the first time or going on vacation. Older children enjoy series such as Harry Potter.

Build Reading Into the Child's Schedule

Parents and childcare providers should build a reading activity into the daily schedule.

While evening or bedtime are popular times to read stories, reading after breakfast or before children go to an activity sets a routine that most children embrace. Providers can set a daily story time and let parents know what book is being read and how it matches enrichment and learning activities for the week.

Plan to Read at Home and on Vacation

Vacation is a prime time for reading enjoyment. Reading is a great activity for sitting by the pool or in the hotel room in the evening.

Build a reading activity into life's planning. Children of all ages should learn the connection between reading and knowledge. If your family is adding a flower bed to the yard, have children read about how to prepare a bed and what flowers and shrubs are optimal for their area of the country.

Getting a new family pet? Read up on varieties of dogs, the care required for them or stories about children and their pets.

Traveling somewhere? Read about your destination, and your children will have the added benefit of knowing more about the area when they arrive.

Involve the Entire Family

Studies show that moms have the tendency to read more to their children than dads, robbing both children and fathers of positive reading experiences. Make reading time with dad or grandpa a priority. Dads read books aloud with children differently than moms do, and children will flourish with the perspective of both.

Ask for Feedback

Evaluation and discussion is an important part of a positive book-reading experience. Ask your child simple questions, such as: Did you like the book? Why or why not? Who was your favorite character? What was your favorite scene? Did you like how it ended? Would you like to read it again someday?

Don't be surprised if your child wants to reread the same book again. That means you did your job well and helped foster a love of reading.

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