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I don’t know if my kids will end up developing a lifelong love of reading, but these are my early reading tips and how I’m setting up our home to foster a love of reading, providing many opportunities for growing bookworms!
Raising readers is the goal, but even if reading doesn’t end up becoming a passion for them, my hope is that with these early reading habits, they will have positive associations and memories with reading.
My Early Reading Tips for Parents
#1. Listen to audiobooks.
Other tip: Give them something to do while they listen. If they’re in the car, there’s usually enough to look at passing by, but if you’re at home, try playing with magnet tiles or a fun sensory activity.
#2. Read in fun spaces.
Make a fort. Put pillows and blankets in a cozy part of the room. Read aloud on a porch swing or even at the kitchen table!
One of our favorite things lately is putting cozy blankets in a laundry basket so my toddler can snuggle up and look at a picture book or listen to an audiobook. It’s pretty silly, but as a busy mom trying to encourage some independent reading time, I count it as a win!
#3. Make reading a part of your family’s routine.
Maybe you have a family reading hour if your kids are older, or maybe you read to your children before naps and bedtime. We also like to establish a library routine so that we’re always curating fun, exciting new books and cycling them in and out of the home. Similarly, let them choose their own books.
You can develop a habit of reading to your kids during snack time or any time they’re sitting strapped in if you have an active baby or toddler on your hands!
#4. Let them see you reading.
If you want your kids to develop a passion for reading, let them see that it’s your passion, too. Don’t save reading for when they’re busy or asleep. Show them how you rest with a book!
This is something I really struggle with, to be honest. Setting aside all the things that need to get done so you can rest and read is a wonderful thing because it models self-care.
Now that my oldest has rest time, we call it DEAR time (Drop Everything and Read or Relax time). In the beginning I would try and work or clean during this time, but now, I try my hardest to drop what I’m doing to read, too.
Also, I talk about what I’m reading. It’s fun to show them what I’m passionate about!
RELATED: 8 Tips on How to Read More as a Mom
#5. Find books they care about.
Lean in to what they’re curious about. If you have a three-year-old suddenly interested in hedgehogs, ask your librarian for book recommendations about hedgehogs!
It sounds simple, but if your child is interested in a specific topic, they’ll be much more likely to sit down and read a book over and over. We really like to get into seasonal books, too.
#6. Get crafty with your reading list.
See if you can come up with some sensory activities or art projects to accompany your reading time. In the picture above, we read a book about Immi, who finds small, brightly colored treasures in the ice when she’s fishing.
We froze some seashells, flowers, and other fun little trinkets overnight and covered them in shaving cream. Then, we used medicine droppers to thaw the ice and collect the treasures!
This particular craft idea came from the Gentle + Classical preschool curriculum we are *very casually* going through together. And on a related note, my favorite thing about this curriculum is the weekly themed reading list! We’ve found many of our favorite books this way.
Listen, this does not have to be Pinterest perfect.
Diving into an activity after reading a book will help them (1) grasp the concept better and (2) enjoy the reading experience more. Suddenly, the world of books opens up a whole new layer of imagination!
Libraries are a great place to find activities to encourage reading, too, so make sure to get some craft ideas from your local librarian.
#7. Check out some book-to-movie adaptations.
Watching the movie could be a great way for kids to engage with the book first. It can be so motivating to a young child, especially if family movie nights tend to be rare.
Encouraging kids to articulate what they liked or didn’t like about the movie after reading the book is an incredible exercise—it keeps them engaged in the content and helps them practice critical thinking on a new level.
#8. Try a book series.
If you can get your child invested in a series, you’ll be so pleasantly surprised! If they enjoy a character or a family, they will want to adventure with the same crew on another book.
One thing we love to do is start a series through physical books and then move on to audiobooks for the rest of the series.
It takes a lot of concentration/focus for a young child to get started with audiobooks, so if they’re already familiar with the premise or the characters, they’ll be much more likely to get into a book.
#9. Read in community.
Isn’t it such a cool idea? Tilly and I love to make reading fun by consuming stories in a social way! We enjoy our local park’s story walk as a way to (1) read with friends, (2) be outside, and (3) be active!
We also love library storytimes and reading with friends in general. Libraries are wonderful resources and can even provide literacy handouts for parents if that’s something you’re looking for. Consider starting a family book club where you talk about books you’re currently reading over a meal together.
Joining other readers in your area is a great way to foster a love of reading!
#10. Make books readily (and visually!) available.
Part of celebrating a love for reading means you can fill your house with books! How lovely! Keep books in high-traffic places to encourage reading—especially if you have older readers. You never know when they might be inspired to pick up a book.
I personally don’t mind the book clutter, but if you’re strictly a books-on-the-shelves kind of person, see how you can fit a little organization into it.
Maybe you keep a bin of books in the bathroom (not library books, people. Come on!), or in a decorative basket tucked under an end table. Keep them in an on-the-go basket in the car.
Place them on shelves that are eye level for them, or on a cozy corner in the playroom. Book piles don’t have to look messy to be readily available.
#11. Give your kids ownership over their reading lives.
Of course you’ll want to monitor what your children read to make sure they’re age appropriate, but helping them develop a sense of ownership over their own reading lives will encourage a love of reading.
Let them get library cards when they’re old enough—library membership is a privilege and teaches them responsibility. Celebrate that moment! Let them explore and check out their own books, and let them start their own personal collection of books at home if you’re able.
Children love to collect things, and giving them something that’s all their own will spark a sense of pride and excitement.
#12. Encourage a love of story in all its forms.
We already discussed different formats (audiobooks), but many children who turn into lifelong readers also loved writing at a young age.
Encourage your kids to learn how to write, to keep a journal if that’s something they’re interested in, or even write songs or write and illustrate their own stories.
These creative projects go hand in hand with reading and helps flourish their imaginations and world building skills.
#13. Limit screen time in favor of reading time.
This is a tricky one, and I don’t necessarily think screen time and reading time should be at odds. I do think there’s only so many hours in a day, and cutting back on family TV time in favor of reading time could be a valuable habit to build.
I’m all for everything in moderation and doing what’s best for your individual child.
If you think limiting screen time could turn your child off to reading, figure out a way these two activities can coexist without making reading seem like a punishment.
What’s the Importance of Developing a Love for Reading?
Children who develop a love for reading often have better concentration, vocabulary, and general understanding of the world around them.
Encouraging a love of reading in your kids will instill:
- Empathy for others
- A vibrant imagination
- Social-emotional skills
Encouraging kids to fall in love with reading helps improve their memory, build problem-solving skills, and lay the groundwork for understanding logic and overall cognitive development.
Early Reading Tips: How to Read Aloud to Your Children
Now that we have ideas for early reading and instilling a love for reading in your home, here are some tips on how to actually read aloud to your children:
- Read widely and diversely.
- Read with emotion and expression to avoid distractions.
- Make reading a sweet bonding experience, i.e., snuggle up in a cozy place!
- Ask questions and start conversations. It’s okay to interrupt a story if it helps a child make important connections.
- Don’t shy away from rereading. It may be boring to you to read the book over and over again, but your child is still benefiting and enjoying the reading experience.
- Invite them in. Let them make certain noises when the time comes, or have them turn the page. Let them act out scenes and use silly voices. Help them feel a part even if you’re the one reading aloud.
- Don’t stop reading aloud just because they learn to read. Even early readers can benefit from the enriched vocabulary found in a picture book or chapter book above their reading level.
- Have other people in their lives read to them, too! Make sure grandma and babysitters and all sorts of different friends and family get a chance to read to your children. Your little one may just be more captivated by someone else’s narration and voices!
Raising Confident Readers
If you’re a parent, teacher, or caregiver who wants to raise confident readers and foster a love of reading, I hope these early childhood reading tips are helpful to you!
Beginning reading activities and other prepared reading tips and habits will change how you and your family think about reading as an activity and skill.
And since every family is different and kids transform as they grow, I’m sure these tips on how to encourage reading in your little ones will change, too. All we can do as parents is offer a wonderful, lifelong gift of reading—in many different creative ways—and see if it sticks!
If you have young readers or your kids are grown and have learned to love reading, will you share your early reading tips, too? I’d love to know!