Prather Pediatric and Allergy Center - Ask Doctor Brent

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Title: Encourging Reading in Your Child

Category: Positive Parenting


     There are several things we could do as parents to encourage our children to become readers.  First of all we should model habits of reading ourselves.  To do that we'll have to turn off the TV and make time for regular daily reading.  Children who see their parents read a lot tend to naturally fall into the habit.  Even as an infant or toddler we can pick our child up as we are reading a paper or magazine and point out pictures, comics or the main point of the story.  Remember their attention span at that young age may be only a few minutes so keep it brief. 

     We should begin to read picture books to our young children and expose them to nursery rhymes and classic children's stories.  As the children grow older we can bring them to the library and let them pick out books of their own interest.  Even at age three or four when they can't read they can begin to look at pictures and develop an interest.  As they enter the reading age after starting school we can continue to bring them to the library and also encourage them with their own magazine subscription to an appropriate children's magazine.  Several of these include Sports Illustrated for Kids, which is my son's favorite, which can be ordered at 1-800-632-1300; National Geographic World, 1-800-638-4077; Zillions, Cricket, Stone Soup, Highlights, and dozens of other great children's magazines available through your library or home subscriptions.  Your librarian can be helpful in pointing out age appropriate books and magazines for your child. 

     There is no substitute for reading to our children.  We must find time to sit and read stories to our children while they are young.  I have never met a child who didn't like to be read to.  With enthusiasm and the right choice of books we can easily start a wonderful habit in our kids if we make the effort and continue encouraging it throughout their lifetime. 

     Let your children read the stories they want.  In other words, let them have the freedom to pick their own books out at the library or bookstore but also encourage them to read the classics appropriate for their age level.  When your child begins to form early reading skills in the elementary grades you can read books with them.  You might let them read every other paragraph.  When they do pick out, read and finish a substantial book, be sure to give them lots of praise and let them know how proud you are of their accomplishment.  Probably, no skill is more important in life than reading.  The more we can do to help our children in this area the more likely they are to be successful in  school and throughout their life.  If you run into a specific problem with reading and your child, talk to your teacher, pediatrician or family doctor.  Also check with your local school.  Lots of current research is showing that kids who grow up in homes with reading and regular conversation and less TV watching do much better throughout their school years and are much better prepared for life because of their better communication skills.