11 reading tips for parents
to help little ones learn (to love) to read

I have some reading tips for parents of either little ones just learning to read or children who are starting to get frustrated. Reading comes naturally to some kids, and others really struggle, so there is no one size fits all strategy, but here are my ideas:

    1. Turn off the television
    I'm sure you know this already, but are you actually doing it? Parents are sometimes pretty reluctant to do this because you know, tv is fun. I need to tell you, though, that television is very high visual stimulation that can lessen a child's natural attention span.

    If television can be at least limited to a certain amount, and also used as an incentive, that would be an improvement over unlimited use. If your child has a television in their bedroom, take it out. Today. If the tv is off more, then kids are more likely to pick up a book. Of all the reading tips for parents on this entire page, this is the one with the most impact.

    2. I'm not just talking about the tv
    Video games and hand held devices also count as screen time, you guys! If you allow these toys, please exert some control over their usage. Keep them in a common area and let them use them only when they've finished chores and homework. Go back and read the first tip again replacing tv/television with video games. It's the same thing going on in your brain.

    3. Don't buy gadgets that replace you
    I know what you're going to say: “but it's educational!” If you take time to do yourself what a LeapFrog device does, you could save a ton of money and have some quality time with your child to boot. Your kids need you, not devices. If you have toys like this, having limits on their usage would be a good idea. Some of these reading tips for parents are contrary to the norm, I'll admit. But do you really want to look at the norm? Okay, let's keep going.

    4. Don't buy book versions of movies
    Cartoon books or other books-that-are-just-movie-marketing are not high quality literature. You don't need Shakespeare on the shelves, but let's go for something that encourages thinking skills, okay?

    By minimizing screen time, you will not only encourage more family time, you'll help your child's brain get ready to accept reading for pleasure. Okay, the preceding reading tips for parents have been big "don'ts." Now it's time for the do's:

    5. Read TO your child
    Even when your child is learning to read, or if he or she has been reading for years, don't stop read aloud time. Listening to a story is one of the great joys in life. A struggling reader especially benefits from listening to a story because you model fluency, inflection, and, most of all, love of books.

    6. Make sure your child sees you reading
    Modelling that grown ups read books is a powerful lesson. It's one of the most important reading tips for parents. There's a reason a third of high school graduates never pick up a book again. And over forty percent of college graduates never read again either (according to a Jerold Jenkins reading study). Many of these folks are parents, you guys! After you read Goodnight Moon to your youngster, grab your own book instead of heading to the couch or to the computer. At least some nights.

    7. Give your child a bookshelf of their own
    This encourages your child to have some ownership over their reading experience, something they can be proud of.

    8. Give your child a book budget
    If finances allow, let your child choose a book whenever you find yourselves in a bookstore or even a second hand store. You could even let your child choose a monthly amazon book to be delivered right to your door. Talk about exciting for a kid!

    9. Let your child stay up a little later if they want to read
    This goes back to the reading=grown up strategy. Most kids resist having a set bedtime and would welcome the opportunity to stay up even a little later at any price. Use this as leverage to toss them a book.

    10. Talk to your kids about any- and everything
    Literacy begins at birth (some would argue even earlier). Children learn their native language from hearing it from you first and foremost. Kids who come to school with an advanced vocabulary aren't smarter; their parents just talked and read to them more than most families.In the early years this means describing everything you see and do, from “I think I'll wear my green shirt today,” to “wow, look at those bananas.” In the car or in the store are super easy locations for high stimulation talking. “I see the letter L—do you see it?”

    As toddlers get older, share your own stories and memories with them. This enriches vocabulary and creates a deep personal bond and a knowledge of the child's heritage.

    11. Engage in reading games and activities with your kids
    Young children learn language through oral interaction. You can strengthen your child's literacy base with these and other reading games for kids.

Reading is something that many of us take for granted. Lots of kids struggle if there is stress associated with learning to read and/or if there is not a supportive climate at home. Use these reading tips for parents with any young child to encourage love of reading. Good luck and happy reading!

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