Make Your Home Reader-friendly

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It's never too early for kids to appreciate reading! Parents can help children develop healthy reading habits by creating a reader-friendly home. * Model reading The best way to expose your kids to the wonderful world of books is to actually read too! When they see how much you love to read, it will be easy for them to follow in your footsteps.

Tisha Cruz, founder of Learning Lion, a creative and innovative approach to learning through games and activities, says, “My husband and I like to read and our children see it. My husband likes to read the newspaper every day and I remember seeing all my kids pick up a newspaper and pretend to read.”

* Create special reading spaces It's true that you can read anywhere but to get them excited, set up a cozy reading nook where they can curl up with their favorite book. Pick out a quiet corner of their room, deck it out with a rug, throw pillows, a beanbag or a low, kid's sofa and surround it with a bookshelf or two of their favorite books. Make sure there is a good light source so they won't hurt their eyes.

* Minimize or eliminate gadget time Grab something to read instead of a gadget to play with. Make reading the default rather than the alternative! Instead of tuning into a show, a movie, or plugging into a game, encourage your readers to zone into a favorite genre in the literary world. Whether they are into adventure and action, fantasy or even horror, help them pick titles that would pique their interest. If they still want to have screen time, it would help to give them a condition of finishing a book or chapter in exchange, say, for a 30-minute gadget play time.

Linzi Arellano, Co, mom of two and owner and instructor at Pure Pilates, says, “Both my kids are voracious readers! In fact our argument has been to stop reading in the car and before bed when I shut off the lights! I think the main thing really is they have ZERO gadgets. No phones, no iPads of their own. They are grade 6 and 3 so that is not a joke at their age. I have an iPad but they can only use it with strict rules. These are our rules: No iPad or TV or computer, unless schoolwork, during the weekdays. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, they have one hour per day only. They can choose between the three (computer, tablet, or TV) and distribute the hour. For example, one hour on the tablet, or 30 minutes on the TV, 15 minutes on the tablet, and 15 minutes on the computer."

* Allot a separate read aloud time and solo reading time Set a special bonding time with the family on a weekly or nightly basis, if you can. If you can't do it before bedtime, a weekend afternoon might be a better fit for you. Take turns with your partner for the read aloud time with the kids, do exciting voices for the different characters, and experiment with actions while you read the story to make it come alive. Younger kids may want their own reading time with Mom or Dad so set a time when you can have a one-on-one with their favorite book. Older kids might be ready for longer books with chapters, keeping them in suspense until the next read aloud session to find out what happens to their literary heroes and heroines! Encourage them to read on their own as well, during wind down time and as an alternative to screen time on gadgets.

* Have a variety of reading materials available Paperback and hard bound books, magazines, picture books, board books, comic books...put them on the shelves, in your bag, in the car, and maybe in the bathroom too! As long as it is appropriate for your kids, keep them handy and within sight.

Tisha says, “Reading was and still is a big thing in our home. We try our best to read books every day. I really invested a lot on storybooks.”

“We usually negotiate to buy toys they like, but with books usually they can have anything they want except these past few years when I'm running out of shelves,” says Linzi.

Keep books with adult topics far up the bookshelves though, where only grown up hands can reach them, but keep the kid-friendly ones low enough for them to peruse on their own. Be sure you've thoroughly evaluated everything your kids might get their hands on too, as some reading materials can surprise you with questionable content. It will also help you stay a step ahead with the inevitable questions about the books' characters and storylines.

* Talk books Talk about your favorite titles as a kid and what you loved about them. Hunt for them in the bookstore and share them with your kids during reading time. Find out if you both enjoy the same things about them or, if they like something else about them! You might be surprised to see your old favorites in a different light, through your child's eyes.

* Make reading fun! Tisha shares, “I made a lot of homemade games. I printed sight words, letters and CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words, laminated these and played lots and lots of games with them. We played games like memory game, go-fish, matching game, what's missing. I remember posting sight words all around the house and labeling everything.”

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net