A home filled with reading material is a good way to help kids become excited readers. What kind of books should you have? Ask your kids about their interests. If they're too young to tell you, ask your local librarian for suggestions about age-appropriate books. Also, you can visit Reading BrightStart! to find book suggestions for children from birth to age 5.
Here are some other tips:
Keep a Variety of Reading Materials
Collect board books or books with mirrors and different textures for babies. Preschoolers enjoy alphabet books, rhyming books, and picture books. Elementary-age kids enjoy fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, plus dictionaries and other reference books.
Kids can understand stories they might not be able to read on their own. If a more challenging book interests your child, read it together. Younger kids can look at illustrations in books and ask questions as they follow along.
Besides books, your kids might also enjoy:
- magazines (for kids)
- audio books
- postcards, e-mails, and text messages from relatives
- photo albums or scrapbooks
- comic books
- the Internet
- beginning reading and alphabet games on a computer/tablet
- magnetized alphabet letters
- e-readers or e-books
Keep Reading Materials Handy
Keep sturdy books with other toys for easy exploration. Books near the changing table and high chair can be helpful distractions for younger kids. Plastic books can even go in the bathtub. Keep books next to comfy chairs and sofas where you cuddle up so you can read after feedings and before naps.
Create a Special Reading Place
As your kids grow:
- Keep books and magazines on shelves they can reach in their favorite hangouts around the home. Make these shelves inviting and keep them organized.
- Place some of the books with the covers facing out so they're easy to spot.
- Put a basket full of books and magazines next to their favorite places to sit.
- Create a cozy reading corner, and encourage your kids to use it by setting up "reading corner time" each day.
Make it Inviting
Make sure reading areas have good lighting. Change the materials often — add seasonal books, rotate different magazines, and include books that are about topics your kids are interested in or learning about in school. Decorate the corner with your child's artwork or writing. Keep a CD or other music player nearby for audio books.
Set up a writing and art center and encourage your kids to make books, posters, or collages that they decorate with their own pictures and writing. Kids love to read things they've written themselves or to share their creations with family and friends. Ask your kids to act out the story.
Think About the Reading Environment
Other ways to encourage your kids to read:
- Limit your kids' screen time (including TV, computer, smartphones, tablets, and video games) to make sure they have time for reading.
- Keep reading activities family-centered, and guide your child in reading activities and media. Even with today's high use of technology, you can decide how much print and how much media to allow into story time. Reading e-books doesn't have to mean giving up lap-time. Make sure to snuggle up with a story often, in whatever format.
- Read together. Read a book aloud or ask your child to read to you from a favorite magazine or book. Make a habit of sitting together while you each read your own books, sharing quiet time together.
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