Four Practical Ways To Help Your Child Became A Reader

1. Phonics- If a kid doesn't know how to read or if she is always struggling with it, I don't see why she would ever be drawn to books. Reading will be more of a painful chore than a joy to that kid. When my oldest daughter was learning to read, she didn't enjoy it. For a long time, I had to bribe her by giving her the choice of bedtime or phonics. She chose phonics every time in order to stay awake longer. But after enough practice in a traditional phonics program, she started reading better and better and after that, she began to really enjoy books. So, this may be obvious, but I think a kid needs to be able to read before they can develop an independent enjoyment of books.

2. Quiet- We don't have cable television and I try and limit my kids' time on the computer and on video games. Therefore, our house stays pretty quiet and it's easy for my kids or I to sit down with a book and stay there without being distracted.

3. Books, books and more books!- If the number of books we owned were limited or if our books were only on one shelf in one out of the way room of our house, my daughter wouldn't read as often as she does. But we have a lot of books and we're always getting more and they're all over our house so my kids are always being reminded of their option to read. In the photo I included with this article, I purchased a stack of used books from the thrift store the night before and they were just sitting on the couch one morning. I hadn't had a chance to put any of them on the bookshelves yet. My daughter woke up, shuffled out of bed, there was no television on to distract her, so she walked into the living room, noticed one of the new books, Down Comes the Rain: A Let's Read and Find Out Book by Franklin Mansfield Branley and just picked it up and started reading. And my daughter kept reading from that stack of "new" books for at least an hour before breakfast.

4. No "junk food" books- As a rule, I don't buy books about popular cartoons, movies or television characters. The way I see it, it's like teaching your kids to choose healthy foods by providing whole wheat toast and yogurt for breakfast instead of doughnuts and sugar cereal. I want my kids to develop an "appetite" for the best books that might not sparkle on the outside, but that will truly nourish their souls. My kids are really drawn to Disney princess books and things like that, naturally. My oldest daughter gasps when she sees their covers, so glittery, so pretty. She runs up to me in the bookstore and says, "Look Mom!" and all that. I tell her that she can read as many of those books as she wants while we are in the store. So then she sets to reading with real gusto and this satisfies her and keeps her busy while I comb the shelves for medal winners and other books that are more worthy books of bringing home to keep. I think this policy has actually added to my daughter's reading experience because the characters she meets in books are always totally new and their stories are usually surprising and charming. This has made my daughter more eager to read just about anything, since she has learned she can't judge how much she will enjoy a book by what's on its cover.


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