Thursday January 27th is Family Literacy Day, a national awareness initiative which was created by ABC Life Literacy Canada in 1999 and held annually. This special day promotes the importance of reading and engaging in other literacy-related activities as a family. As bookstore owners and as parents, this cause is obviously very close to our hearts. Encouraging literacy in children is absolutely vital in ensuring that they succeed in their education and later careers and is a necessary component in the development of their imaginations.
In honour of Family Literacy Day, here are some of our tips for encouraging your child to read.
1) Start early. We are firm believers that it is never too early to begin reading to your child. Sitting down with an infant and reading to them not only helps to improve their language skills and visual acuity, but it's also a great bonding experience as well. We made nightly storytime part of our daughter's bedtime routine when she was just a few months old and it continues to this day over two years later. It's a time of the day that we all look forward to and a great way to unwind after a busy day. We also recommend simply getting books into the hands of children as young as possible. Sturdy board books in the hands of an infant or toddler improves their dexterity and helps them get used to turning pages.
2) Be a reader yourself. As with most things in the parenting world, leading by example is very important. If your child is used to having books in the house and sees you reading for pleasure, they will be inspired to do so as well.
3) Bring them to a bookstore or library. Take the time every so often to bring your child to a bookstore or a library and let them explore the shelves on their own. Seeing the wide variety of books available will encourage them to search out what they are interested in and perhaps enable them to find something new.
4) Find a book that will interest them. This is the most important piece of advice we have! It's a bit of a no-brainer actually: if they are interested in the book, they will read it. So, make an effort to find books with subjects that they are interested in. No matter what the age, there is a book out there for everyone. It's just a matter of finding it. There are horror, comedy, scif-fi, fantasy, romance, drama, and adventure books. There are books about sports, horses, dinosaurs, fairies, princesses, and monsters. You name it, there's a children's book about the subject.
If you are still having trouble convincing a child to read, try a different tactic. Graphic Novels/Comic Books are an easy sell for most kids and there are some amazing quality kid-friendly books out there like Bone, Amulet, Graphic Guide Adventures, and Smile to name a few. There are also many graphic novel adaptations of novels such as Percy Jackson: The Lightning Thief, Twilight, Artemis Fowl, and The Babysitter's Club which might lead the child to seek out the novel series in order to continue the story. We also recommend books like the Choose Your Own Adventure series which help make the reading a more interactive experience.
Now go share a book with your kids...