Seven steps towards developing a love of literature

I remember the first book that I ever read.  And I remember the anticipation and joy that I felt whenever I was gifted a new book. Even now, I consider opportunities to curl up with a good book to be a special treat.  So, how in this age of screens and electronic distractions do we foster a love of literature in our children?  Here are a few ideas to allow you to bestow the gift of reading to your child.

  1. Start early:   It’s never too early to start reading to your baby.  Reading to children paves the way for future reading abilities by exposing them to language, rhythm, and storytelling even before they can read.  Select board books with rhythmic rhymes and delightful textures to stimulate their senses as they enjoy the sound of your voice and security of your touch.  
  2. Be a good role model:   Children frequently imitate their parents’ actions. They are more inclined to read and love books if they observe you doing so. Let your child follow the example of your own love of reading.  
  3. Make reading fun:  Incorporating funny voices, dynamic stories and laughter brings stories to life and peak interest.  Pick books for your child’s age that will appeal to their interests and imagination. And don’t forget to incorporate reading into fun daily activities, such as reading a recipe, road signs on a car trip or grocery lists.  
  4. Check out bookstores and libraries:  Visits to the bookstore or library can be a fun outing. Make a plan to take your toddler to the read-a-long at the library. As your child gets older, allow them to choose their own books, comics or magazines to bring home.  
  5. Talk about the stories:  Reading is about understanding and curiosity, not just words on paper.  Discuss the books your child reads with them. Inquire about their preferred characters, surprising narrative developments, and anticipated future events to improve their interest, critical thinking skills, and language development.  
  6. Use technology sensibly:  Just as we might listen to an e-book while driving to work or doing our household chores, children may also develop their imagination and “sense of story” by listening to books.  As well, there are many very useful apps for developing early literacy skills – more on this in a future blog. Just be sure to monitor their technology usage.  
  7. Be patient:  We all want the very best for our children and it can be easy to feel overwhelmed when we see them struggling with any skill.  Remember, each child develops at their own rate.  Be understanding and encouraging if your child is having difficulty reading. If you are stressed, your child will be too. Take a deep breath, or two, and instead concentrate on making reading fun! 

If you are concerned about your youngster’s reading progress, think about consulting with someone who is knowledgeable about reading milestones, such as a teacher, who can offer an objective perspective. 

Stay tuned for my next blog where I will provide a guideline for different stages of reading development and additional strategies to support your young reader.

About Dr. Anita Burhanpurkar

Registered with the College of Psychologists of Ontario (CPO) since 2003, Dr. Anita Burhanpurkar is licensed by the College of Psychologists of Ontario to work with children, adolescents and families. She currently works for the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board in Mississauga and also provides psychological services to children and adolescents through her private practice, Hummingbird Psychology.