Everybody knows that reading is extremely important. However, we’ve all heard our kids say, “I don’t want to read. I just want to play!” Two of the most common questions I hear from parents are:
- How do you get your to child to read?
- How do you get your child to LIKE reading?
To answer these questions, I’ve put together a list of 10 ways to get your child to read throughout the day. The goal is to create an environment that entices the child to be curious about words and their meaning. The most obvious point (read with your child) is listed last, since I hope to get people thinking about reading outside of story-time.
This post is part of a series dedicated to teaching kids how to read Chinese, although many principles apply to other languages.
- When and How to Introduce Chinese Characters to Kids?
- 10 Ways to Encourage Your Child to Read
- Create a Print-Rich Environment with Labels that Promote Literacy
- How I Taught My Daughter to Read 1000+ Chinese Characters as a Non-Fluent Parent
1. Simplify your home
My first recommendation is to look around your house from the eyes of the child. Children are going to have a hard time noticing books if a million toys clutter the room. Please don’t misunderstand – I strongly believe in free play! However, after donating several boxes of toys, I noticed that my kids’ are more focused at any task, and they reach for books on their own.
2. Display the front cover of books
Make books noticeable by placing them at the eye-level with the front cover visible. The more you see more of the book, the easier it is to get excited about it! Plus, my daughter learned to read many Chinese, Korean, and English words simply by looking at book titles!
If you don’t have front-facing bookshelves, you can put them in baskets for babies, on a ledge for toddlers, or atop a bookshelf for older kids.
3. Rotate the books on display
Change-up the books on display, and switch them out when your child seems bored of them. Pick them out with your child or surprise them! Since my kids spend a lot of time in the bathroom, we had a front-facing bookcase installed across the porcelain throne.
4. Write messages on the easel
We start the day with the date and weather, and use the easel to highlight key words, play matching games, and draw! Below is an example of an animal matching game. This emoji post, this mouth anatomy post, and this eye anatomy post have examples of how we used it to teach other topics. We love our Melissa and Doug easel, but a great alternative would be a magnetic white board for the refrigerator.
5. Leave funny notes around the house!
I leave notes on random household items with silly sentences or useful information. My daughter was amused by the message in the photo below. The note on the tissue box reads: “不要用你的袖子. 不要挖你的鼻子. (Bùyào yòng nǐ de xiùzi. Bùyào wā nǐ de bízi. / Do not use your sleeves. Do not pick your nose.) You can hand-write or type/print out notes and put them in their lunchbox or in their room!
6. Enhance pretend play with signs
Put “name-tags” on your toy animals, dolls, and Lego figures, and add signs to your child’s pretend toy store or zoo! In our backyard, the kids use a small chalkboard similar to this for their store sign. Indoors, we keep it simple with construction paper or cardboard signs.
7. Make cards for friends and family
I rarely buy cards anymore because my daughter enjoys making and giving them to our loved ones. She gets a lot of reading and writing practice through frequent card-making! Store-bought cards are overpriced; making cards saves money!
8. Have fun with literacy activities
In our home, arts and crafts almost always comes with reading practice! Every blank space is a opportunity to write a name or description. When we play outside, we use chalk to practice tracing and writing, and the kids love to jump on words! You can read about when and how we set up activities here.
9. Brainstorm stories together!
One of my favorite things to do is come up with stories with my daughter. Sometimes we write stories about our day, and other times we just chat and make up stories on the fly! In one of my first posts, I share a video of my daughter reading about our family’s trip to the zoo. Here are story stones that we made based on the 石 (stone) radical!
10. Read with your child everyday
Although I have listed this last, this is most important, especially during the early years. Each day, devote at least 15 minutes to reading. Like most other families, story-time is a part of the bedtime routine. Since my daughter would rather do anything than sleep, I always ask her, “Are you ready for bed or would you like to stay up extra late and read?” Without hesitation, she always chooses to read over sleep! Therefore, I try to move bedtime up to allow extra time for extra reading. I highly recommend this approach if you don’t have time for anything else!
In summary, my kids enjoy looking at books on their own because words are accessible, relevant, and interesting in our print-rich environment.
I hope these ideas help spark that love of reading for your child! Do you have other favorite ways to get your child to enjoy reading? Please share in the comment section below!
P.S. Bonus tip: Surround your home with a variety of books! Click here to see our favorite Chinese books!
Happy reading, friends!