Can a reading environment really make a difference in nurturing a love of reading for children? I believe it can when conditions are in place to foster reading.
Here are 5 tips for fostering a reading environment children will love:
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Tip #1: Create a Reading Space with Your Child
My favorite space to read is outside lounging on a chair in the hot sun! My one daughter loves to read smothered in comfy pillows with soft pillowcases while having a blanket hanging over her entire bed. She turns on her star light in the corner with a dim lamp so it looks like she is reading under the stars!
My point is, everyone is different… even within the same family! What is an ideal reading space for you may not be ideal for your child. Please involve your child in the creation of his/her reading space. Consider the type of lighting your child prefers to read in, the environment, time of day most reading will be done, and so on.
Tip #2: Model Reading as Special Time
I have heard many parents tell me that they themselves dislike reading, but that they want it to be different for their child. Some even state in front of their child how much they themselves hate it! However, if reading is not being modeled as something of value within the home, how will it be viewed as valuable?
Modeling reading can include anything from reading your favorite book, magazine or comic book… as long as it is done free of other distractions such as checking out the latest updates on social media. Enjoying a nice, hot beverage while reading can be a nice way to enhance the experience. Offering a special drink for your child that is only offered during reading time can help associate reading as something for him or her to cherish as well.
Tip #3: Have Reading be Distraction Free
Expecting your child to focus on a book and read with the tv on or with his/her favorite piece of technology within arm’s reach is likely to be unsuccessful. I find setting up the environment for reading success to be helpful. For example, if we are going to an appointment in which we know there will be waiting, I encourage my younger children to pack a book. I do the same. Haha, I have no games on my phone and rarely have data on so they aren’t interested in my phone anyway. 😉
Other than that, we tend to allow our children to stay up later if they are reading. It is amazing how motivating this one factor can be… even if it is only 15-30 minutes! When the option is to simply turn out the lights or stay up later if seen reading, the choice practically ALWAYS is to read! Research shows that reading before falling asleep enhances one’s sleep as well, which is an added benefit.
Tip #4: Provide Easy Access to Enjoyable Reading Material
Books, to me, are like music. My song choices vary depending on the mood I’m in as well as the tone and messages I am in the mood for. I love variety in my music! I also love variety in my books!
Sometimes I’m in the mood for a super easy read that simply makes me smile. I still love to read Archie comics, for example. I loved them as a kid… still love them as an adult! 🙂 Most days, however, I’m in the mood for a much deeper read. I tend to change it up a lot! In fact, it is not uncommon for me to have a few books on the go at once in which I pick up whatever I’m in the mood for on any given day.
My hubby, on the other hand, is a one-style reader and pretty much always reads a book from start to finish before picking up any other reading. He loves any book written by Lee Child. He is extremely predictable in his reading! My adult son likes to read about influential people. He recently enjoyed Kevin Hart’s I Can’t Make This Up: Life Lessons.
Please involve your child in picking out reading material.
Just as the adults in my house go for different genres and reading material, so likely will each individual in your home. Even my 3 daughters rarely pick the same type of books as each other! I honestly don’t care as long as they are reading and developing a love of reading!
I recommend checking out the local library or going book shopping together. You will want to ensure there is easy access to the reading material your child will enjoy most. Be sure that it is either reading material that is at the independent or instructional reading level. If you need more information as to what I mean by this, please check out Strategy 1 in this blog post.
Having a special shelf or home for your child’s books once they are in the home can also be of benefit. My kids like baskets in their room for their go-to books.
Tip #5: Have Book Talk a Regular Part of Conversation Time
I don’t know about your kids, but mine like to be heard. I am always amazed at how much they have to say when I am doing laundry, for example. Suddenly each of them has something to show me or tell me about! I guess they figure I’m more likely to be fully engaged in the conversation when I have a job to do that requires me to be in one area, haha!
Whatever this time is for you, don’t hesitate to slip in a question or two about the book your child is reading. Bringing up a few tidbits from your own reading is great as well! This helps our children empathize with characters and further emphasizes the value seen in reading.
What if My Child Still Refuses to Read?
If the reading environment is ideal and your child is still refusing to read, there is a possibility that reading is not a comfortable activity for your child. There may be a barrier in place that needs to be overcome so reading can become comfortable and something that is done with confidence.
Does your child prefer to be read to? Reading to your child provides great bonding time. This is true no matter what age our child is!
Need Book Ideas?
What About You?
Do you have any favorite tips for creating a reading environment for children? What is your favorite environment to read in? Please let me know in the comments below.