Everyone knows that reading is important. However, we’ve all heard our kids say, “I don’t want to read. I just want to play!” Parents commonly wonder:
- How can I encourage my child to read?
- How can I get my child to LIKE reading?
The answer is that the environment must foster curiosity about words and their meaning. Let’s have a look at 10+ ways to encourage the joy of reading!
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
Look around your house from the eyes of a child. While educational toys are fun and helpful, excess options can challenge the ability to focus on any task. In addition, kids will have a hard time noticing books in a cluttered room, especially with a television or talking electronic toys.
An organized space will allow a child to notice books and be more attentive during story time.
2. Read with your child everyday
Each day, spend at least 15 minutes reading with your child, and don’t hesitate to read out loud with an older kid who still enjoys bonding over family reading.
For our kids, story time is 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.
Related: The Importance of Reading Out Loud to Big Kids (Brightly)
3. Offer a variety of books
“There’s no such thing as a kid who hates reading. There are kids who love reading, and kids who are reading the wrong books.” ―
Children are more likely to find a desirable book when they have options. In addition, variety is necessary to expose children to concepts that they would not have otherwise encountered. For example, although my son strongly prefers cars and animals, I read him books with female protagonists so that he can learn about other perspectives. Books by different authors also expose children to different sentence structure and styles.
4. 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 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.
Related: Where to Buy Chinese Books for Kids
5. Rotate books on display
Change up the displayed books, and switch them out when your child seems bored of them. Consider choosing books with your child or surprising them! Since my kids spend a lot of time in the bathroom, we had a front-facing bookcase installed across the porcelain throne.
6. 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.
7. 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!
8. 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.
9. 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!
10. 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!
Related: How-To Guide for Chinese Activities
11. 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 this post, 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!
In summary, kids will be more motivated to read when books are accessible, relevant, and interesting in a print-rich environment.
I hope these ideas help spark that love of reading for your child! What are your favorite ways to encourage reading? Please share in the comment section below!
ADVICE ON HOW TO TEACH KIDS CHINESE
- Tips on creating a Chinese learning environment at home
- Teach Your Child a Second Language at Home with 5 Key Steps
- Raising Multilingual Children as a Non-Fluent Parent: 7 Lessons Learned in 2018
- How To Get Your Child To Speak the Minority Language
- Encourage A Child to Love and Speak the Minority Language with 5 Strategies
- How to Find a Foreign Language Teacher for Your Child
- 5 Reasons Books are the Best Gifts for Multilingual Kids
- Teaching kids how to read Chinese