Developing a love of reading - A guide for parents

Developing a love of reading
How to help your child to love reading!

When you help your child learn to read, you are opening the door to a world of books and learning. Reading aloud to your child is the best way to get them interested in reading. 

Spending time with word games, stories, and books will help your child to:

gather information and learn about the world

learn how stories and books work – that they have beginnings, endings, characters, and themes

build a rich vocabulary by reading and talking about new words

learn how to listen and how to think

learn the sounds of language and language patterns

fall in love with books

What tips can I use to help my child learn to read?

Tip 1 – Talk to Your Child

  •  Tell family stories about yourself, your child's grandparents, and other relatives.
  •  Talk to your child as much as possible about things you are doing and thinking.
  •  Ask your child lots of questions.
  •  Encourage your child to tell you what they think or feel.
  •  Ask your child to tell you about their day.
  •  Be patient! Give your child time to find the words they want to use.
  •  Sing songs  and recite nursery rhymes, encouraging your child to join in.
  •  Play rhyming and riddle games.

Tip 2 – Read Every Day

  • Set aside a special time each day when you can give your full attention to reading with your child.
  • Choose a comfortable spot to read, where you can be close to your child.
  • Choose a variety of books.
  • Vary the length of reading time according to your child's age and interests.
  • Read slowly so that your child can form a mental picture of what is happening in the story.
  • Praise your child for their ideas and participation!
  • When you and your child are away from home, take books, magazines, and books on CDs for your child to read and listen to.
  • Keep reading to your child even after he or she has learned to read. By reading stories that will interest your child, you can stretch your child's understanding and keep alive the magic of shared reading.

Tip 3 – Listen to your child read

  • Show your child that you are enjoying the story by showing an interest and by asking questions.
  • Make sure that your child selects books that aren't too difficult. Don't worry if the books your child chooses are a little easier than the ones he or she reads at school.
  • Encourage your child to "listen" to thier own reading. Listening will help them hear mistakes and try to fix them.
  • Take turns reading with your child, especially if they are just beginning to read, or try reading together.
  • Talk about a story after your child has read it, to make sure that they understand it.

Tip 4 – Make Reading Fun

  • Read with excitement! Use different voices for different characters in the story.
  • Use your child's name instead of a character's name. Make puppets and use them to act out a story.
  • Re-read your child's favourite stories as many times as your child wants to hear them, and choose books and authors that your child enjoys.
  • Read stories that are repetitive so that your child can to join in. 
  • Read all kinds of material – stories, poems, information books, magazine and newspaper articles, and comics.
  • Encourage relatives and friends to give your child books as gifts.
  • Take your child to the library
  • Subscribe to a magazine for your child. He or she will love receiving post!

Tip 5 – Set an Example

  • Read recipes, food labels, timetables, maps, instructions, and brochures.
  • Read traffic signs and signs in shops and restaurants.
  • Look up information in cookery books, manuals, atlases, and dictionaries.
  • Read greeting cards, letters, and e-mail messages to and from relatives and friends.

Tip 6 – Talk About Books

  • Ask your child about the kinds of books they would like to read.
  • Talk to your child about your favourite books from childhood, and offer to read them.
  • Encourage your child to ask questions and to comment on the story and pictures in a book – before, during, and after reading it.
  • Look at the cover and the title of a book with your child, and ask your child what they think might happen in the story.
  • Think out loud about the story as you read, and encourage your child to do the same. For example, ask, "I wonder what...?"
  • Give your child time to think about the story, and then ask him or her about it again a few days later.

Tip 7 – Show that you value your child's efforts

  • Be aware of your child's reading level, but use that information in a positive way. Choose books and activities that are at the right level and that will help your child  to improve their reading skills.
  • Be patient and flexible in your efforts to help your child.
  • Show your child that you see them as a growing reader, and praise their efforts to learn.