In an age of technology, it may seem harder than ever to raise a child who loves to read. That’s why it’s crucial to start the process at a young age. Studies have shown that reading aloud to children in infancy and toddlerhood not only develops a child’s vocabulary but develops early reading skills, leading to future success in kindergarten.
In the earliest stages of reading, all it takes is a few minutes and a picture book with Mom and Dad. When children are read to each day, they absorb those stories and gradually develop a love of reading. When you engage them in the story beyond the text and pictures by asking questions or relating it back to their own lives, they develop a respect for storytelling. This process allows children to bond with stories, and their families, at the same time.
But how can we thread reading into the fabric of our everyday lives? And more than that, how can we do so in a way that is consistently enjoyable for little ones?
It may seem simple, but it is often something that is overlooked. You get busy, or your little one is more interested in playing with their toys. But even something as quick and easy as 10 minutes of reading helps to set the foundation. Find pockets of time throughout the day, whether it be in the morning before school or in the evening before bed. Let your child pick out their favorite story to entice them, or introduce a favorite of your own to forge a special moment together. Every second counts towards building a reader and a lover of books.
Incorporate imaginative play.
When we think of stories, we immediately think of books – but those aren’t the only types of stories being told. Storytelling is an art form that can be expressed in a variety of ways, and one of our favorites is through imaginative play. Your child is telling themselves a story when they dress up like a pirate and sail the seven seas or when they build a train track in the living room. Invite them to expand upon these activities by building the stories out. Include characters and voices and backstories for a more in-depth experience. Ask your child questions – what will happen next? – to give them the chance to flesh out the story and think of new plot ideas. The possibilities are endless!
Visit the library.
Libraries continue to be the backbone of the early childhood literary experience. While it’s always exciting to build your child’s library with all of their favorite books, the best way to test out new stories and discover new genres is by visiting the library. The library not only has every book imaginable, they also have fun activities like weekend storytimes and author visits to allow your little one to experience stories in a new, exciting way. Plus, there’s something very exciting about getting your first library card and having the opportunity to make your own decisions!
Create a safe and cozy reading environment.
Beyond the reading experience itself, the reading environment is crucial to encourage your child to read and enjoy books. When a child has a cozy little book nook to curl up in or they know they will hear a story as they drift to sleep in bed, they begin to associate reading with comfort and peace. This allows reading to be the calming activity it’s meant to be, outside of our busy schedules and playground time. Make a pillow fort or create a corner in your child’s room full of books and cushions that feels warm and inviting and see how quickly storytime becomes the highlight of their day!
Bring reading to life in new ways.
The best thing about stories is how universal they are. They depict experiences we’ve all had in big, beautiful ways. But the best part about that aspect of storytelling is how easy it becomes to find pieces of those stories in our everyday lives. Some books, like Eloise at the Plaza, are easier to find in the day to day – the Plaza is a real place in New York City, and children can visit and experience Eloise’s world in real life! But other stories, like Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt, give kids the chance to explore on their own terms. They can plant a garden or dig through the soil and see and feel the same things as the children in the story. Bringing books to life is simple, and creates an experience that is both special and interactive for your child. Pick a book off the shelf and see how it relates to something in your own home, your own city, or simply the world around you!
When you start reading with your child at a young age and bring books into your home and their lives, they will learn to love stories and seek them out.
Building a reader takes time and consistency, but when your child discovers there’s magic in storytelling, they’ll build that love all on their own.
Check out a few of our recent favorite books for our youngest book worms!