Get Your Kids Reading

March 2 is Read Across America Day. On this day that celebrates reading, here are our top 10 reasons that reading is important:

  • Reading relaxes the body and calms the mind
  • Reading is “brain food”
  • Reduces stress
  • Reading helps children be compassionate and develop empathy
  • Reading improves vocabulary and grammar
  • Books boost imagination
  • Save energy (TV and video games off!)
  • Reading helps to enhance concentration and discipline
  • Reading develops critical thinking skills
  • Reading helps you become an interesting person
  • Children who read do better in school
  • Reading helps to develop attention span
  • Avid readers are exposed to a world full of possibilities and opportunities

If your kids are pre-readers, or reluctant readers, how can you create an environment that encourages reading? With a few basic ideas:

Keep a Varied Selection for Your Child’s Age

Babies enjoy board books or books with mirrors and different textures. Even if they spend more time chewing on the book than looking, that’s okay. What’s important is getting them to engage with the books.

Preschoolers love alphabet books, rhyming books and picture books. There are some lovely picture books without words that let children use their imagination to tell the story. It’s a great opportunity to look at the book with your child and encourage him or her to make up a story about what is going on in the picture.

For elementary-age and older kids keep a variety of fiction, non-fiction and even reference books available. Even graphic books like comic books or graphic novels can be a great way to engage readers who might otherwise be intimidated by words covering a page.

And, if there is a more challenging book that interests your child, read it together. It can be a great opportunity to spend time together.

Keep Reading Material All Over the House

Keep books in easy reach of kids. For babies, consider keeping little books near changing tables or high chairs as they can be great distractions for the babies. There are even “bath-time” books that kids can look at in the bathtub.

Keep sturdier books near toys so the books are right there as an option along with the Lego blocks. If the books are visible and in reach, kids will be more likely to grab them.

Consider Creating a Special Reading Place

Kids love a special place where they can hide, and take some time for themselves. If you have the space, consider an indoor blanket-tent they can crawl into that filled with pillows and books. Or, a nice comfy chair where they can read where there is good light and the books are readily available. Keep a basket of reading material in the family’s main living space so they can just as easily choose a book instead of the remote.

Find Books Together

The local library is a great cost-effective way to find a large variety of books suitable for all ages. And librarians can recommend books for different interests and ages. Make it a Saturday morning routine to go to the library together and find special books for the week.

Other Ideas to Keep Kids Reading

  • Turn off the TV
  • Read at least 20 minutes a day
  • Read as a family
  • Have older children, read to younger children
  • Encourage children to read to a pet or even a stuff animal
  • Show that books are fun