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Secrets to Raising a Reader

by Melissa Taylor | September 24, 2012 | Early Education & Literacy

Growing a love of reading

We all want our children to love reading, to be good readers, and to build a strong literacy foundation for school. You don’t have to be a teacher or a specialist to positively influence your child’s reading success. But here’s what teachers do with their children that every parent can implement.

Here are nine teacher secrets for raising a reader.

  1. New Experiences – Give your child lots of experiences. These build his background knowledge. More background knowledge improves his reading comprehension down the road. No books required for this – just a variety of experiences.
  2. Lots of Words – Have conversations with your child. All the words you use with your child build her vocabulary. Research shows us that the greater a child’s vocabulary, the better reader she is.
  3. Books Everywhere – It might seem obvious but it’s really important to have books around that your child can read. Have low shelves, tubs, or crates that are accessible to your kids.
  4. Read Aloud – Reading to a child is the best way to insure he develops a love for stories and reading. Make a daily habit of reading stories to your child. Believe it or not, reading to your kids is the number one thing you can do to influence your child’s reading success. When you read aloud, make your voice dramatic and expressive. Talk about the story and the pictures. Point at the words so your child begins to develop an understanding of text.
  5. Choice – Let your child choose the books she wants to read. She’ll develop a greater interest when she has control over the book selection.
  6. Connect to Books – Connect the stories to your everyday life. Say things like, “This reminds me of _____ in the story we read.” Look to books for information. Don’t know the answer to a question? Use the opportunity to say, “Let’s find a book about that!” Also, think of crafts and field trips related to the books you’ve been reading.
  7. Letter Fun – Play, sing, and practice the letters and their sounds. Start with the alphabet song, fridge magnets, puzzles, and I Spy.
  8. Read Yourself – Kids copy us –they see us talking on the phone, they pretend to talk on the phone. It only follows that if they see us reading, they’ll want to read, too.  So, read. You’re modeling what you want your child to do.
  9. Rhyme – Rhyming is important for readers. Read books with rhymes. Dr. Seuss, Audrey Wood, Karma Wilson, and Jan Thomas are all picture book authors with rhyming books. Play “What rhymes with?” and sing rhyming songs like “Miss Mary Mack” and “Down By the Bay.”

You’ve learned the secrets. Now it’s time to take action. Don’t forget about public libraries. Free books and story times for kids make the library the best resource for raising a reader.

Look at your schedule and plan raising-a-reader moments. You’re preparing your child for a lifelong love of reading. Happy reading!

Which of the above secrets do you think might work well for instilling the love of reading in your own child? Or maybe you have your own secret to share. Either way, post it in a comment below!