We’d all like our children to take to reading early and enjoy books throughout their lives. Unfortunately, not every child has an immediate and natural love of reading. This doesn’t necessarily mean that anything is wrong with your kid! Sometimes, parents and teachers need to do a little work to help cultivate a love of literature.
This work is best done early, before children learn to associate reading with struggling and frustration. Fortunately, it’s never too late to course-correct if you want to help your child learn to love books.
Make reading time fun for the whole family
Don’t teach your kids that reading is inherently frustrating. Starting from an early age, set aside time every day to read to your child. If it’s possible, try to get the whole family involved in reading as a group activity in the afternoon or right before bed.
Help your child hold the book so they can see the words on the page. Ask them what book they want to read, and don’t grumble too much if they want to return to an old favorite. Young children often enjoy repeatedly returning to the stories they like best. Don’t try to force your child out of their comfort zone by insisting on something more challenging. If your child is struggling to keep up, never scold them or treat them as if they’re lazy.
Never turn your nose up at reading material
Many parents make the mistake of applying their own biases about reading material to their child’s reading habits. If your kid enjoys comic books, that can be a great way to develop a love of reading! Even video games can help kids learn to read if the game is text-based. Older readers may enjoy action-packed adventure books, and it’s fine if they prefer to read those for pleasure so long as they’re also keeping up with their homework.
Letting your kids read a wide range of material doesn’t mean you can’t set any limits at all. For children who are curious about books with romance, horror, or violence, try to find an age-appropriate option instead of letting them go straight to the adult section. Make sure you tell your kids often that if they find something in a book disturbing or challenging, they can always ask questions without being shamed or judged.
Find characters your child can identify with
Children don’t always interact with stories in the same way that adults do. While adults may enjoy difficult stories about morally complex characters, children often relate to protagonists by thinking about what they ought to do in the same situation. A story that you might think is about a character acting foolish might be embarrassing to a child. Some children also have a strong desire to see characters that look like themselves on the page. As they develop a sense of their own identity, they might want to see protagonists who share their characteristics.
For older readers, sometimes it’s good to read stories about protagonists that aren’t exactly like them. Learning to see the world from someone else’s point of view is how children practice empathy. However, for young readers, getting to see themselves on the page can be a thrilling experience. That’s why we created our line of personalized children’s books. At Penwizard, we believe that every child should get the opportunity to see themselves on the page. What better way to encourage a love of learning than making your kid the center of a story?