How to Raise a Reader
Reading can open so many doors and windows for children. Not only does it help them excel academically, but research shows that it also improves their self-esteem, widens their worldview, increases empathy, offers stress relief, improves memory, helps with vocabulary and language skills, teaches self-sufficiency, and regular readers also sleep better. Here are some tips for helping kids climb the reading ladder at every stage of the game.
- They’re never too young or too old for you to read books to them. Even the tiniest newborns love to sit on a parent’s lap and look at bright colorful pictures. And adults will find that this is a relaxing way to bond with their infants.
- For babies and toddlers, fidgety books are fabulous! Give them books with textures and noises to engage them. They’ll still be listening to you read while they fidget with the book. Blue Baboon Books has a wonderful line of Noisy Books that are perfect for little ones!
- Reading books isn’t always about telling a story. Sometimes it’s about the experience of sitting on mom’s lap or snuggling dad for storytime. That comforting experience brings good feelings around books and reading.
- You don’t just have to read the story. You can play games with it. How many cars do you see on this page? Can you find the turtle on this page? How many red objects can you find?
- If you’re sitting down for storytime and your child is bouncing around like a rubber ball, KEEP READING. Your child is listening, and you’re showing your child that you value storytime. And if you make storytime into a battle of “Sit down!”, it becomes no fun for you or your kids.
- Bring your kids to Blue Baboon Books’ storytimes. Ms. Amy is a storytime genius. She incorporates songs, voices, and dances into every storytime — engaging kids and making them LOVE books. Our storytimes are 10:30 a.m. each Wednesday and Friday.
- Be silly! Do the voices. Sing the songs. If the book says to dance, dance! The more you engage in books, the more you’re showing your child how fun books are, and you’re creating a warm-fuzzy feeling around books.
- Phonics boxes are great confidence-builders for beginning readers. Blue Baboon Books carries several character-based phonics boxes — Pete the Cat, superheroes, Pinkalicious, Pokemon, Fly Guy, and more!
- If kids are resistant to read on their own, don’t push. Find out what they like and make every effort to find literature in their scope of interest. Even if it’s a book on video games, it’s still a book. They’re still learning to appreciate the written word.
“Every now and again it becomes fashionable among some adults to point at a subset of children’s books, a genre, perhaps, or an author, and to declare them bad books, books that children should be stopped from reading…It’s tosh. It’s snobbery and it’s foolishness. There are no bad authors for children, that children like and want to read and seek out, because every child is different. They can find the stories they need to, and they bring themselves to stories. A hackneyed, worn-out idea isn’t hackneyed and worn out to them. This is the first time the child has encountered it. Do not discourage children from reading because you feel they are reading the wrong thing. Fiction you do not like is a route to other books you may prefer. And not everyone has the same taste as you.” — Neil Gaiman, “Coraline” author
- Graphic and illustrated novels are a godsend! They appeal to reluctant and avid readers alike. They break up the overwhelmingness of words-words-words, and they offer visual cues for kids who might struggle with the words. Some kids stay in the graphic-novel phase for years, and that’s okay. We want kids reading, and graphic novels have plots and characters just like traditional novels. Additionally, kids are exposed to different sentence structures, vocabulary, and writing styles. Aside from the more popular graphic novels (Wimpy Kid, Dork Diaries, Dog Man, and Babymouse), Blue Baboon Books even carries an excellent line of nonfiction graphic novels.
- Nonfiction fact books are great for reluctant readers. They offer snippets of information without overwhelming a child with a cover-to-cover commitment.
- Set aside at least 20 minutes a day for reading. This will expose kids to 1.8 million words per year. Also, students who scored 90 percent better than their peers on reading tests read for more than 20 minutes a day. Students who scored in the 50th percentile, read on average only 4.6 minutes per day, which exposes them to only about 282,000 words per year.
- Show them that you value reading by … reading. Kids notice what you do. And if you model reading (and actually enjoy it!), kids will pick up on that.