Learn why it is important to create the habit of reading from an early age, and see how it is possible to encourage kids to read.
With the new generation of digital-native children who are born immersed in technology, the challenge of encouraging reading at an early age gains even more importance.
In this article, you will read why it is important to encourage this habit from an early age and learn how to help little ones become great readers!
The importance of reading in childhood
Even before a child learns how to read, it is already possible to introduce them to the world of reading. This early contact with books and stories is important for children’s development, as well as for their relationship with reading in the future. Here are some of the main reasons to encourage kids to read in childhood:
- Reading develops vocabulary and interpretation skills
Even before they are born, it is common for people to talk to babies. Children soon learn their first words from those most used in their routine through the people with whom they have a close emotional relationship.
When they live new experiences, little ones gradually expand their vocabulary and thus get to know the world around them. Reading is a great way to ensure this learning. In books, the child comes into contact with new situations, new places, and consequently, many more words than those the family uses in their daily lives.
Besides this, following a narrative, whether by listening to or reading a story, develops the ability to interpret text. They become able to understand the characters and events from the text, also relating it to the images in an illustrated book. This helps little ones learn how to deal with abstract concepts and express their ideas and feelings in a better way.
- Reading improves concentration and memory
Diving into a good story is an immersive experience that puts children in a state of high concentration and focus. This is uncommon in other activities; when playing with digital devices, for example, it’s common for different stimuli to encourage the child to do more than one thing at the same time or to change their focus of attention quickly.
By following the plot of a book, the child learns to pay attention, making a mental effort to get to know all the characters and remember previous events in order to understand the development of the story. Often, little ones pay so much attention that they then retell the story to family and friends, showing how reading helps to develop the ability to memorize.
- Books encourage imagination and creativity
Each book is a new world to be explored. Even if the world around them is already a great mystery, knowing magical, mythological, or even realistic stories that aren’t part of their daily lives is an essential experience.
When reading, we imagine the characters, sets, and events in the story as if they were real. When kids come into contact with books, their natural creativity is boosted; they learn to differentiate what’s real and what’s make-believe while simultaneously realizing that imagination can make everything possible.
- Reading promotes empathy and a willingness to learn
Stories are one of the most powerful ways of looking at things from a different perspective. By putting themselves in a character’s shoes and living their experiences through reading, the child develops empathy and also the realization that they are not the center of the world. They learn that understanding different circumstances and worrying about other people’s feelings are also important. This helps little ones better understand their own emotions as well.
Furthermore, during childhood, we are still beginning to get to know the world, and getting in touch with different realities (and fantasies!) can stimulate children’s natural curiosity. Thus, reading stimulates the thirst for learning.
- Reading with the family strengthens affective bonds
Receiving a book as a gift, reading with your family, or listening to a story before bed are all moments that can remain in your memory forever!
Reading to a child is a way to strengthen affectional bonds by spending significant time together as a family. Relaxing and snuggling with your child to enjoy each other’s company while reading is a great way to connect with them and create memories for a lifetime.
What if the child doesn’t like to read?
“My son doesn’t like to read, I’ve tried everything,” sadly, is a sentence that we hear more often than we should. We cannot deny that children are exposed to more and more stimuli and options of activities in their daily lives. In addition to playing with toys, little ones spend much of their time watching TV, playing video games, and navigating the internet.
What usually happens is that, at some point in their childhood, kids come to see reading as an obligation – something unpleasant and linked to an activity they do at school. At that moment, books lose their charm compared to all other entertainment options and become boring. When this occurs, reading becomes a challenge – as well as learning new things, inside or outside the classroom.
On the other hand, teenagers and children often also point out that they read because they like it and not because they’re supposed to. In other words, if this habit is cultivated and encouraged, it can be possible to change how kids view books as entertainment rather than an obligation.
Here are our tips on how to help your little one fall in love with reading.
8 ways to encourage kids to read
Starting the habit of reading from an early age and developing a positive relationship with books in childhood is essential not only for their development but also for the child’s future. Those who do not like to read because of difficulties with interpretation or because they were not stimulated enough may face obstacles to study new things. They can also have problems with autonomy to learn on their own, and even not being able to develop professionally later in life.
But fear not! All of this can change depending on the way we relate to reading from an early age, which will be carried out throughout adulthood. Here are some essential tips on how to provide good reading experiences for your child and how to ensure that they fall in love with the world of books early on:
1. Choose books appropriate for your child’s age
For smaller readers, getting in touch with the right books at the right time can make all the difference. There are children’s books for babies, for children in preschool, even for older children and pre-teens. From the language and vocabulary to the text and illustrations, all elements are used to make reading an unforgettable experience. That’s why choosing an appropriate book is so important!
Read more about it in the article “What book is best for my child?”
2. Pay attention to possible difficulties
It’s also common for children to be frustrated with reading when they have some difficulty that can hinder their experience. This can range from a problem in language acquisition or literacy to a challenge in interpreting the text or even issues with vision or neurology.
If the child shows signs like switching letters or having real difficulty communicating or writing, be alert! Keep encouraging them but always respect their own limits and, if necessary, seek out specialists such as psychotherapists. Catching these things early on helps to prevent problems from having lasting effects on your child’s development.
3. Make reading fun!
Considering reading as an obligation and associating it with a tedious activity is one of the main reasons why most adults do not like to read. For this to change, it’s necessary to encourage a different relationship between readers and books from an early age!
Besides, studies show that we learn more when having fun! The child is much more likely to understand and remember what was read when they’re enjoying themselves. Bring characters to life, role-play, and create sound effects! These are just some ideas about how reading can become a real game. Here are more tips on how to encourage reading in a fun way.
4. Create a reading routine and set an example
Like any other habit, reading is a practice that needs to happen daily. Only then will reading become part of the child’s routine. Choose a time to read every day with the little one – for example, just before bed.
The rest of the family will also benefit from creating a reading habit. With that, everyone will be an example for the child. When they see you reading magazines, newspapers, and books, it shows the little one that reading is important. Why not relax as a family while everyone reads a book?
Read more: The importance of family reading for school development.
5. Connect reading with your child’s interests
The more reading becomes part of the child’s life, the better. Try to present books on subjects they are learning at school, or that inspired that movie they love. It’s also worth investing in books with favorite famous characters and on something they’re obsessed with, like dinosaurs, astronauts, or football. There’s almost certainly a great story on the topic at your nearest library! All of this makes the child connect with the story and learn much more from it.
6. Take the kids to places that promote reading
Exploring libraries and bookstores is an incredible experience! Look for a place where you can spend time and sit down to read calmly and comfortably. Leave the little one free to look for books that interest them. Read with them and ask why they liked it and which is their favorite.
If you make reading an event, it can be a new form of leisure for the family. In addition to being an inexpensive activity, it’s an excellent opportunity for children to have fun and learn.
7. Introduce different literary genres
Especially in childhood, it’s very important to help the child become familiar with different types of books and texts. Show them the classics, best sellers, comics, poems, fairy tales, non-fiction, and so many other options.
Make sure your little one can access an assortment of books, magazines, comics, e-books, and whatever else they want. Children who choose what they want to read, regardless of format, are much more involved with the reading itself. This is the most important thing for them to experience other genres and formats throughout life.
8. Encourage a healthy relationship with technology
When used consciously, technology can encourage child development and be a great source of fun. However, excessive use can harm other important activities for children such as outdoor play and reading.
Regulating the time and place they can use digital devices during their childhood is very important. This helps to encourage your child to become interested in offline activities, including reading a good book. See more tips to help little ones develop a balanced relationship with technology.
A unique reading experience!
Have you ever imagined an entire personalized children’s book, in which your child is the main character?
With the dream of encouraging reading in childhood, Playstories has made it possible for any little one to be the protagonist of a fantastic story!
On the website, you can choose from over 30 stories, all filled with amazing stories and fun characters! You can customize the book by putting in the child’s name and creating their own avatar! The kids will be a part of the story and will receive the book at home. They will love to show it to their family and friends!