It’s not just about tricking kids into reading, it’s about creating a deep love and appreciation for the mind broadening activity. Reading begins to strengthen the brain from early development, and keeps the brain functioning more efficiently into old age. From the day parents start reading to their itty bitty ones, those brand new minds cultivate a fondness, and thus the desire to immerse into stories on paper sprouts. While you may not have a Matilda on your hands, there are even more ways to encourage your kids to read, that don’t cost a dime.
Early Life Entertainment
Many have been there, you’re in a restaurant or public place and your child is screaming at a pitch likely to break all the windows. You console them, but to no avail. Handing over the smart phone is almost an instinctual reaction to stop the tantrum. But when introduced early, before electronics, a book may bring peace to a situation, or possibly prevent it all together. Reading is calming, and studies have shown it reduces stress. Little ones get stressed too.
Have Books on Hand Anywhere
The above leads us into our second tip—have books ready, whether at the doctor, a sports event or even a nice restaurant. Rotate them regularly so an exciting adventure is just a page turn away, and you get to keep your phone.
Keep Books on Their Level
Pictures are okay! Kids can enjoy an assortment of books, even ones that incorporate games, coloring and lots of artwork. These types of stimulation can keep young ones intrigued until an interest for more text comes about. Some of the most classic children’s books are loaded with amazing drawings that make it a true gem. A line of books called Great Illustrated Classics shortens more lengthy selections like Moby Dick and Frankenstein, while adding visual pages.
There’s a sense of pride that comes over a kid when they have their very own membership card, to literally anything. Local library cards are often free, for example, a Georgia state wide card can be registered for at Georgialibraries.org. Not only does this provide access to traditional books, but audiobooks, videos and other cool resources. In Georgia, you can get free passes to the zoo and other parks or museums when watching and reading certain educational materials.
Take Advantage of Online Reading Resources
Free books aren’t just found in the library — you can also find stories online. Parents can foster their child’s love of reading through websites like FreeChildrenStories.com. This website offers new, original stories for kids of all ages, available in multiple languages. You don’t have to sign up or download anything to read these fun and creative stories. Other options include Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, a book gifting program that mails books to children in communities throughout the United States as well as Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. Imagination Library gifts more than 1 million books every month to kids up to age 5, so it’s worth seeing if this program is available in your neighborhood.
Find Books with Their Interests
Some kids don’t take to reading as quickly, but if you hand a dinosaur lover a book loaded with cool facts and awesome prehistoric sketches, they may not be able to resist. Try to look for selections that tie into a deep rooted interest, whether that be space, airplanes, dancing and so on. A first love could help turn reading into a second.
Let Them Pick
At the beginning, guidance is needed, but a time comes when you’ve sparked imagination, and your young one‘s mind is blossoming before your eyes. Let them choose books they want to read, while you can still make suggestions. This will further encourage curiosity, and the craving to read more and more.
Get the family together, and spend the evening acting out the books everyone is reading. Encourage kids to come up with their own costumes and scene setting for the show. For dinner, choose foods that fit the storylines if applicable, and if you already have needed items in the fridge. Maybe super wee ones love Green Eggs and Ham, there might be a chance spinach and eggs could be in the house.
When kids are young, parents are often involved in the reading process, either helping littles when a tough word comes about, or reading for them at the very beginning. Look ahead before reading time, and find some clever props from the story that you may have on hand. Reading Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? Well of course have delicious dark chocolate to enjoy.
Design a Reading Nook
And let them help. Pick a spot in their room or somewhere else in the house where you can add pillows, blankets and a nightlight. Consider a window side space where the views are tranquil and ever changing. Make it your own, with accessories and signs that may be lying around the house. Perhaps give it a touch of “fairytale”, with billowy netting hanging from the ceiling, and magical accents like glowing ceiling stars and clip on butterflies.
While instilling a deep rooted love for reading, adding in incentives for taking on more challenging literature, or for meeting a certain goal, can help kids achieve more than they might have originally thought. Maybe it’s their first “no picture” book, perhaps your child has finished an entire series—celebrate these milestones! Have a pizza party, because that never gets outdated. But then again that isn’t free. Allow them to skip chores for the day to keep it no cost.
Write Your Own Books
What could be more exciting than reading a story written together? Or maybe everyone in the family can write their own short story and exchange them so siblings, mom and dad can all be treated to each other’s creativity. If you’re not sure where to start, aspiring authors can find tips on how to write children’s a children’s book from the ReedsyBlog, which can help you turn your book idea into something that ends up on store shelves one day. Who knows, you may write the next great children’s classic!