Reading time: How to encourage your child to read more

Reading is a vital part of a child’s development. Reading allows children to explore their imagination, gain more knowledge and learn new words. Most children engage in reading at school for at least an hour, but what about when they are home? Ginger Joe, a school teacher here at Le Bonheur, shares how parents can encourage their child to read more outside of the classroom and spark his or her interest with books.

How can parents encourage their children to read more in their spare time?

Parents should love reading themselves and show how reading is valued at home. Reading broadens a child’s horizons. We’ve heard the expression, “Monkey see, Monkey do.” If a child sees his parents reading in their spare time, he, too, will likely learn to value reading. Try setting a designated time for reading where everyone is involved – and afterwards share what you all have read.

How can reading make an impact on a child’s development?

Reading is one of our major forms of communication. Reading creates critical and creative thinking skills that help shape your child’s personality. Your child’s vocabulary will greatly increase, language skills will be enhanced, and together this leads to greater cognitive development.

Some of my favorite quotes about reading are:

  • Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. Charles W. Eliot
  • A good book on your shelf is a friend that turns its back on you and remains a friend.
  • It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it. Oscar Wilde
  • Books are not made for furniture, but there is nothing else that so beautifully furnishes a house. Henry Ward Beecher
  • Books are lighthouses erected in the great sea of time. E.P. Whipple

How many hours a day should a child engage in reading?

It depends on your child’s age and attention level. A good general rule is 10-20 minutes for younger children and 45-60 minutes for older children. But if something peaks your or your child’s interest, continue to engage more in reading.

What are fun activities parents can do with their children that involve reading?

Some fun reading activities to encourage some friendly competition would be to see who can read the most pages or read the most books on a weekly basis. Maybe even consider having a family reading night where family members can take turns reading aloud a chapter book together or act scenes from the book. Actively engage children in producing a product through reading (i.e. following a recipe, assembling a toy, etc.). My all-time favorite when I was little was the Book It Program sponsored by Pizza Hut, where the incentive is a FREE pizza for reading so many books. Add a new twist to this idea by having a special night out or special meal /dessert for reading so many books during a given time. Just remember: We read by example and read because it is intrinsically rewarding.

development