I believe that children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way. What a completely original and fantastic sentiment that I clearly borrowed from a Whitney Houston song.
No matter how shamelessly 'borrowed' the lyrics are, they ring quite true. If you're trying to encourage your child to read books then you'll need to let them decide what they're willing to read.
Sitting your kids down to regale them about the majesty of cellular mitosis is only going to lead to a load of kids that hate reading. When children pick a subject that interests them you'll be shocked at how much they enjoy reading about that subject.
It was easy getting my little boy to start reading. He's really into vehicles of every sort and dinosaurs. So if I hand him a book on either of those subjects he's going to tear through it as a starving man would rip into a roast beef sandwich. For my daughter? It's a bit more difficult to discern what gets her brain juices flowing.
She really likes dancing and Marvel superheroes. Comics seem like an easy solution, but is it OK to hand over a book that consists mostly of pictures? Does a comic book have any sort of benefit? We're gonna dive deep into that question and more today.
Importance of Reading
Reading is shockingly important to young children. If they can't read for themselves quite yet, then you should be reading to them! Having kids read books massively improves their language acquisition skills. Helping your kids to understand the meaning of language even if they don't understand the individual words is a lifelong skill.
You might be surprised at the positive effects that having your child read books can have on their social skills. Learning new words and how to express themselves is a key factor in building relationships faster and creating tighter bonds with friends and family members. Synonyms and adjectives will broaden the palette of your children's language.
Some children will take like reading like a duck to water. I can recall consuming every book that was put in front of me as a child. I loved learning every little fact that I could. Uncle John's Bathroom Reader was one of my favorite series, though it was a rare occassion that it was actually left in the bathroom. I brought my book of silly facts and factual stories everywhere I went!
My kids don't seem as interested in facts and figures, but I do know them well enough to hand them books that they're willing to give a chance. There are only so many books about dinosaurs in our house so sometimes I'll need to get a little creative. My boy reads about lizards just as avidly as he does about dinosaurs. This can open the door to endless other animals.
Sparking interest is the key to encouraging your child to read. If they decide they don't want to read something, definitely do not force them to do so. Shoving a subject onto a child can turn them off to reading in an instant. The pressure to get them reading should be firm, but extremely gentle.
Motivation to Read
While it's true that reading is its own reward, some kids are adamant about avoiding reading at all costs. This is when I borrow an idea from the book fairs that I remember from school. We had competitions to see which classroom could read the most pages but this can be easily implemented on an individual basis as well.
The strength of your child's reading and the kind of reward will determine how many pages are needed to complete the chart. I generally like to set small goals so my kids don't feel overwhelmed by the reading challenge ahead of them.
Small goals also only require tiny rewards which is nice. Give your child a choice in the reward for their reading, but ensure that you pick the items. For instance you might want to offer a choice between reflective neon shoelaces or no-tie curly shoelaces. (My kids pick the curly laces 100% of the time.) Another popular choice is between candy bars, since my kids don't get candy all that often.
Are Picture Books OK?
I would not hesitate to hand a child a picture book of any sort. Comic books, visual novels, even books completely without words can be helpful when a parent is accompanying to put words to the pictures. Books with pictures are great for those language acquisition skills I mentioned.
When you can say a word and relate it to the pictures shown in the book, it can be extremely helpful. I'd wager to say that books with pictures are MORE helpful than books simple filled with words that have no context.
Your Child Wants To Read!
They might not realize it, but kids want to read. They are naturally curious and all you truly need to do it guide them in the right direction to allow that curiosity to blossom. Watching your kids read or even sitting down to read with them is an amazing bonding experience. Their little minds are so eager to absorb any information that is presented to them, so always ensure that you are presenting the correct things.
Being outside is quite helpful for kids as well. Life is a fine balance. We have an entire blog about why kids love dirt so much. Since you've made it to this site and this blog, I'm sure that you care deeply and I trust that you will feed their brains the right things to help them grow strong.