I love books. I love reading. I remember reading Sweet Valley Kids and Babysitter’s Club (do they still have it?) when I was six or seven years old and up until now, my love for books and reading never fade. This is why I was happy to see my eldest share the same passion for books and reading. Apparently, my youngest daughter loathed it. She never picked up a book and refused to sit down and listen every time I read a story before their bedtime. She also destroyed some of the books we had because she doesn’t like to read.
Well, that was before.
As soon as she turned four and started going to school, everything changed. All of a sudden, I could see her getting a book in the shelf and reading on her own. She also identified her favorites and would often ask me to read the same story before bedtime. She also started to point books that she likes every time we go to the bookstore (in case you’re wondering, yes I bought it. LOL). In other words, she was the one initiating to read and I am happy about it.
Aside from school, here’s what we did to instill the love for reading on my non-reader preschooler:
1) Story time is a MUST every night – even if she doesn’t want it.
Kids are all about routines, or at least for my kids. Over the years, we were able to develop a system that we all have to comply with and can easily adjust to, depending on the situation. Regardless, we always make it a point to read a story every night, even if my youngest wasn’t into it. It became a part of our nighttime routine that she eventually got used to it. There was no force imposed here. We just showed her that reading a bedtime story is always a part of our routine to the point that she started embracing the system, even if she was hesitant to join at first.
2) We let her buy the book/s that she wants.
A trip to the mall will never be complete without passing by the bookstore. My eldest was enthusiastic about it, but my youngest only started appreciating books few months ago. We were in Powerbooks and I was asking her what book she likes. She went around for 15 to 20 minutes until she finally decided to go for Lion Guard board books. I wanted to be sure so I held on to the books and asked her if she likes anything else. Minutes passed and she insisted on the Lion Guard books.
That was the start. Since then, she started to embrace reading. I figured that if I want to impart the love for reading, it should start with something she really likes, which in this case, Lion Guard books. The fact that she was also given an option to choose got her excited too, instead of me choosing what book to buy.
3) It’s okay to read the SAME story over and over.
Done with the Lion Guard and as of this writing, we’re moving on to classic children’s stories. Her current favorite: Goldilocks and the Three Bears. I must admit: I’m getting tired of this story. Yes, she reads now, but Goldilocks will ALWAYS be a part of our bedtime story. I already memorized every word, but hey, it turns out that reading the same book is actually good for the kids and here’s why:
- Familiarity with and recognition of words, which leads to creating a larger vocabulary
- Makes the child aware of the pattern and rhythm of texts
- Repetitive reading allows the child to read fluently
- Better reading comprehension
- Boosts a child’s confidence to read more
Even if I read the same story, I make it a point to give the story a twist, change the plot or words, and ask more challenging questions instead of sticking to the usual. This way, my daughter will still be constantly challenged, which is a good thing, don’t you think?
4) Books are easily accessible.
Our bookshelves are divided into three areas: law books, my personal choices of books, and the kids’ books. I placed mine on the highest counters while the lower areas are dedicated for my kids’ books. I made sure that their books are within reach to make it easier for them to get what they want and encourage them more to read.
5) Let her voice be heard.
Oh I hate interruptions while reading. When I had kids, I learned to embrace the fact that they will constantly ask questions, change the story, and make side comments about almost everything they can see in the book. It can be annoying, but I figured that it is part of their system so I let them be.
This is why I also ask questions to my youngest about what happened or what she thinks will happen next. I encourage her to decide on what the characters will say instead of relying on what was written on the book. I keep her involved in the story instead of just me, reading and her, listening. The more engaged she was, the more she became excited to read.
6) Patience is key.
Definitely. Each kid has his/her own pace on everything, including reading. Some kids will show their love for reading at an early age while there are kids like mine who prefer toys over books first. Just be patient, mommas. Don’t let the pressure get into your system. So what if your friend’s daughter reads at two? Everything has its own timing and at the same time, some kids are not really into reading. Breathe and then relax.