How to Raise Lifelong Readers

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ByAnisa Arsenault
Associate Editor
Updated
Jan 2017
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Reading to baby has some serious benefits — you know that. But once you’ve been through every picture book and nursery rhyme in an attempt to boost brain development and language skills, how do you get your child to actually like reading?

That’s the question Daniel Willingham is addressing in his new book, Raising Kids Who Read. He explains there’s a difference between teaching kids to read and teaching them to love reading.

“I think I gain experiences I wouldn’t gain any other way by virtue of being a reader. And so naturally I want my children to experience that,” Willingham tells NPR.

Early Steps 

“Before preschool, probably the most important thing you can do is to play games that help your child hear speech sounds: rhyming games, reading aloud books that have a lot of rhyme in them and other types of wordplay, like alliteration.”

What comes next?

Around kindergarten age, you can get a little more advanced. “If you had a child named Billy, you could say, ‘Daddy’s name is Cory. What if we took the first sound in Billy’s name, and my name is now Bory?’ That kind of stuff is comic gold for kids,” says Willingham.

Lead by example

“You should model reading, make reading pleasurable, read aloud to your kid in situations that are warm and create positive association,” says Willingham. And when older siblings are readers, younger ones will likely follow suit. He adds that reading has to be positioned as the most favorable activity. “If they like reading but there’s something else available that they like more, they’re going to choose that.” The solution? Place books in places where boredom sets in, like the car.

(via NPR)

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