If we want to get our children reading and then keep them reading, it’s really helpful to understand what motivates them to read.
1. Storytelling doesn’t just mean reading! Retell folktales, fairy tales, urban legends, family lore. Whenever you’re telling or reading a story, keep your child engaged by asking them open-ended questions about the characters or plot – questions the child can’t answer with a yes or no.
2. If your child doesn’t like to read, don’t give up! You just haven’t found the right book yet. Go to the library and explore different kinds of books. Make sure that your children have access to books. Children who can get books more easily, read more.
3. Make reading an interactive activity. Have no shame when you read aloud: Do accents; Take dramatic pauses; Modulate your voice, raising and lowering it to build narrative momentum. Let your children mock you. My children love it when I make a loud roaring sound when it gets to the part when Liam roars like a lion and dad gets a fright, when we read Liam goes to the game reserve. They copy the sound and they try to make as many of the sounds of the animals in the book. We identify animals and they have to find and count the animals.
4. Let children choose their own books. Children are more likely to read a book that they have chosen themselves or that a friend has recommended, than a book chosen for them. They like books that match their personal interests. They are more likely to choose books that have exciting covers and action-packed plots, as well as books that are funny or scary, and have great illustrations and activities.
5. Model the behavior you want to see. Dedicate time to reading. Make it part of your day. Invite your child to sit next to you on the couch as you both read. Keep books out — in baskets, on shelves, and on coffee tables.
Author Christina van Straaten has written the following books: