- Be a reader yourself
As an adult, it may be challenging to build a reading habit. I remember the first time I am trying to read a book again after years of not reading, it was so hard. I can’t barely finish 1 book in 3 months. There were always excuses I made up to avoid finishing up the book I was reading. Can you imagine how difficult it will be to told your kids to be an enthusiast reader? When we adult find it hard to get motivated ourselves.
There is a term “children do what children see”? this exactly what applies in my situation with my child. Before I encourage him to read, I become a reader myself. I grow my reading habit for almost a year now. I forced myself to read at least 20 pages every day, after a while, it becomes my habit. My son saw me reading before sleeping and I did not mean to set an example for him, I am just doing my thing, but apparently, he is curious about why I am read so often. Then I explained to him that I wanted to learn something that is why I read.
I introduce a book to my child by reading him storybooks when he was 2 years old. As he gets bigger, instead of reading a storybook to him, I am reading him with him.
- Offer cute stationery
This is very random but, when I read a book, I usually will put an arrow bookmark on every important page for me. My son was mesmerized by the simple bookmark. He said “I want to put bookmarks on my books”, then I told him that I will give him his own bookmark when he can read a book on his own. Surprisingly, that promise motivates him to read on his own then put a bookmark on the pages he wanted. Of course, it takes a lot of bookmarks to be attached in his book. That is ok, I want to motivate him to read more later on. When he finally finishes reading a book, regardless he understands entirely the meaning in it, I will give him some kind of reward. I compliment his effort and give him a simple gift such as cute stickers or a set of a mini colorful marker.
- Start with 2 pages
Obviously, you cannot expect your kid to be an expert reader that keen to read every day. With kids there are always ups and down with the mood. Observe the mood changing, suggest them to read a book when they are happy and calm. Another option is to set a specific time to read, such as after dinner maybe or an hour before bedtime. Choose whatever fits your family schedule. During the Covid-19 home quarantine situation, I set a time in the morning around 10 am for reading time. I will sit beside him to accompany him and waiting to answer his questions. There are always words or sentences that he did not understand and wanted an immediate answer.
It is important not to force your child to read. Guide your child but not stressed them on reading an overwhelming number of pages. Make reading a fun activity, not a scary obligation. At the early stage of start reading a book on his own, I would give a storybook that has large letters and dominated mostly by pictures.
Start as with reading 2 pages on his own. After he enjoys his reading activity, he slowly changes to a book that has more words. Accompany your kids during the reading proses. There will be a time they complain about how tired they are reading (even only 1 page). Let them take a break. You can continue it again later when they have a better mood. At the moment my son has a growing interest in comic books like this below, where it has more words that his previous storybook.
These days he is willing to read 4 to 6 pages on his own. It is slow progress but, that is okay. The fact that it is his own initiative to read his book already making me happy. Whether he wanted to read 2 pages or 4 pages, it is up to him. It is the habit of reading I want him to have not reading race of how fast he can read a book.
- Review the book together
I read a great book together with my son, it is written by Nick Vujicic, titled “Give Me A Hug”. It is a story about a man born without hands and feet but can achieve amazing things in his life despite his physical limitations. You could choose any kind of useful book for your kid. It can be about the manner, life value, knowledge, inspiring story, or family. As a young child might not able to fully grasp the meaning of the story, you could help by explaining the value you trying to teach your kid. Make sure to be there when they reading their book and give guidance on what message the book is trying to tell.
- Highlight an important message and apply it to your kid’s daily life
A book is also a good medium for you to convey your message to kids. For example, books about how important it is to brush their teeth. Some kids may not fond of brushing teeth, try to pursue them by reading books about teeth together with them. Explain what are the implication of not keeping their teeth cleaned twice a day, how to maintain teethe hygiene, or what kind of food should be avoided to prevent tooth decay. Then suggest them to do as the book says and apply it in daily life.
Showing kids, the benefit of reading a book might increase their interest to read, especially if the book is suiting their favorite things like animals, cars, space, etc. Although at first, they only like to look at the pictures. Eventually, they will want to read it too.