We all know how important it is to read to our children. Not only does it increase their vocabulary, but it teaches them empathy, expands their world and helps their imagination grow.
However, some kids just don’t seem interested in reading. They’d rather be playing lego, jumping on the trampoline, bike riding, chasing, just about anything over sitting still.
So how do we ensure these active kids don’t miss out on all the benefits of reading? Here are some great ways to get kids to love reading.
1. Act it out
If your child tends to jump up whenever they get bored, mix your storytelling up a bit. Sometimes it helps for parents to act out stories, use silly expressions and be engaging when they read aloud.
According to clinical psychologist and author of books Parenting Without Anger and Anxiety Free, Drug Free, Renee Mill, if a story is acted out, it can help keep your child interested in reading.
“If the child is familiar with the story and they chime in, it helps (for example, the parent says ‘Hairy Maclary’, and the child finishes, ‘from Donaldson’s Dairy!’” she told us.
2. Take a trip to the library
To get kids to love reading, it helps to have a big selection of age-appropriate books in the house. If you don’t have many (or are bored of what you do have), take a trip to the local library. It can sometimes help when children can select their own books as they’re more likely to want to read them when they get home.
“My favourite thing about the library is being able to choose all the Charlie and Lola books. And also seeing the goldfish they have at the library,” four-year-old Louisa said. We love Charlie and Lola too!
Libraries also have a stack of free events and activities for kids that can help engage them further with literacy. Keep an eye out on your local library website or chat with the librarians on your next visit.
3. Don’t be too ambitious
To help get kids to love reading, part of it is finding the style of books they want to read. For example, if your child isn’t into books but loves comics, then that should be encouraged as long as they’re engaging with hard copy.
Renee agreed. She also said: “Use sticker books and other activity books to encourage the feel of paper.”
You could even get plastic bath books and pram books so they’re playing with books in their day to day life.
4. Role model reading behaviour
If you want to get your kids to love reading and storytelling, you need to show them how much you enjoy it.
As Renee said: “If a parent doesn’t like reading and only watches movies, how can they foster a love for reading?”
So how can you do that when you’re busy with all the other things you need to do in a day? It might mean putting your phone away and having a stack of books to flick through. When you’re on holiday, making a point of getting out your holiday novel and sitting on the couch.
Mum of two Vivienne told us that she’s gone back to reading the newspaper. “I now get the weekend papers delivered just so I can show my kids the importance of reading. I obviously never get through the whole thing, but I flick through it over the weekend. It’s actually been really lovely to get back to reading hard copy news again!”
It doesn’t have to just be books. According to the Raising Children website, sharing verbal stories can be equally important.
“You might like to make up your own stories or share family stories. Your child will learn words and develop language skills from the songs, stories and conversations you share together,” they wrote.
5. Before you watch the movie or tv show, read the book!
There are so many book-to-tv and book-to-movie adaptations. Think Charlotte’s Web, Winnie the Pooh, Paddington, Guess How Much I Love You, Hairy Maclary, Peter Rabbit.
However, before you watch the screen version, try to introduce the book first. That way, they’ll know the inspiration behind some of their favourite shows and movies came from a wonderful book.
6. Get ready for book week early
Some kids (and parents) come up with some amazing costumes for book week. However the whole point of book week isn’t really the costume, it’s the book research.
If you were like us and scrambling for a costume on the Sunday night beforehand (oops), perhaps try to think about it a bit earlier next year. You could ask your librarian for a recommendation of a few books you can read with your child and then decide on the perfect costume. It can help extend the excitement of book week and also (hopefully) avoid the Sunday afternoon dash to K-Mart for a costume…
7. Introduce them to audiobooks
If your child just won’t sit still for a book then audiobooks could be a great way to introduce them to more stories.
According to speech pathologist and Dinosnores creator Shereen Alfreds: “The talkers get the headstart.
“They get exposed to the vocabulary as they’re happy to sit on mum’s lap and listen to 10 stories. Sometimes it’s great for ‘doing kids’ to be able to listen to stories while they’re doing playdough or playing lego.”
An audiobook means they’ll still get that language immersion but are able to keep moving and stay active.