Reading aloud while your child is still in the womb and during his infancy develops his skills in listening and speaking. Studies have even shown that books can boost vocabulary and reading skills when he reaches preschool age. Another study suggests that proficient readers are more likely to be successful in school as better reading skills imply a better understanding of subjects. But does love for reading continue in this day and age where kids have access to gadgets?
According to the latest "Kids and Family Reading Report" by Scholastic, there is a significant decrease in American children between ages 8 and 9 who think of themselves as frequent readers. In a survey of 1,000 pairs of children and their parents, 57% of 8-year-olds said they read books for fun five to seven days each week and 40% of them said they love reading. On the other hand, only 35% of 9-year-olds shared the same reading habit, and only 28 percent said they love reading.
As kids get older, they also become busier — extracurricular activities, sports, and tech distractions like video games lure them away from reading. Reading becomes associated with studying, which is why big kids sometimes see it as a chore.
Here are 5 ways to make reading enjoyable for kids
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Don’t fixate on reading levels
Some books are recommended for certain ages and reading levels. These labels sometimes discourage parents from letting their child read a particular book but fostering a love for reading means you have to let your child choose what books he wants to read.
“Nurturing that love of reading is a matter of allowing your children to pick the books that resonate with them,” says Scott Chua, a young award-winning writer, and co-author of graphic novel Doorkeeper in a previous SmartParenting.com.pharticle.
According to a 2017 survey by Scholastic, children are more likely to finish reading a book they had a hand in choosing and their favorite books are the ones they’ve picked out themselves.
“I’ve always been a believer in being a little looser with worries about the age-appropriateness or reading levels of books,” said Ethan Chua, co-author of Doorkeeper. “In some ways, the challenge of sifting through a difficult book is part of the fun of reading as a kid.”
Some parents might think that children don’t learn anything from comic books or graphic novels, but it’s appealing to big kids for a reason. Think of these as a more mature form of picture books that retain a child’s attention and help them advance their reading comprehension.
“Don’t judge certain stories as better or worse. It can be natural to turn to the so-called ‘classics’ when it comes to trying to get your child to read, but really, if they find something they like, let them keep at it, regardless of what genre or form it is,” says Ethan.
Read aloud to your kids
Yes, your kids can already read by themselves, but there are benefits to keep reading aloud to older kids. Not only is it a great way to bond but it can also help discuss difficult issues and introduce different genres without boring your child. Try reading nonfiction books aloud — they can be as engaging as a novel!
According to Scholastic, parents of frequent readers are more likely to be frequent readers themselves. Show your kids that you love reading — make it a bonding activity and exchange ideas and opinions about the different stories you’ve read. “Reading role models are critical to instilling reading as an integral part of a child’s life,” says the report.
Just as you allow them to choose various book formats, you can also try letting your child read up on diverse topics and authors. Books from Filipino authors are equally compelling as international writers.
According to the Scholastic report, one father who answered the survey viewed this as an important aspect of children learning about differences and understanding the world.
“The world is a diverse place. My child should be able to experience stories of those who are not just like her, or just look like her, or live like her. She should be able to learn that people come in all shapes come in all shapes, sizes, colors, belief systems, and educational or cultural backgrounds, so that she is ready to engage with the world in an authentic way.”