As parents we do whatever we can to encourage our children to read. But sometimes, without realising it, we also do things that stand in the way of our children becoming readers. Here are some of the ways in which we may sometimes discourage our children from reading without realising it, as well as suggestions of what to do instead!
1. No books at home: Children need to have books around them if we want them to learn to read. You can’t learn to read without books! Of course, the more books children have available at home, the more likely they are to find some that will interest them enough to make them want to read. Build up your supply of books at home by buying books for your children as birthday gifts, saving the cut-out-and-keep books in each Nal’ibali supplement and borrowing books from the library.
2. Locking books away: If you keep books on high shelves that children cannot reach, or lock them away in cupboards, children have to ask for books when they want to read. They need to be able to pick up a book whenever they feel like reading! So, keep books in places that are easy for children to find and reach.
3. Only reading aloud to younger children: Reading aloud to children is the best thing you can do to help increase their literacy skills – and this applies to all children. Keep reading to your children even when they can read by themselves. In this way, you’ll keep them motivated to read and you’ll spend time relaxing together and connecting around books.
4. Not letting them choose their books: We are more likely to want to read a book that we have chosen ourselves. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t ever suggest books for your children to read, and it is important that you show them how you find out about a book by looking at the front cover and reading the blurb on the back. But, at least some of the time, your children should choose the books they would like you to read aloud to them and the books they want to read on their own.
5. Bribing and punishing: If you link reading to punishment (“You didn’t read, so now you can’t watch TV!”) or use it to bribe (“I’ll give you a slab of chocolate, if you read that book.”), children will not see reading as something that is enjoyable. And, we need children to want to read if they are going to be life-long readers!
6. Not enough time: If children have too many chores to do, or their weekends and afternoons are filled with lots of activities, then they are not going to have enough time to read. It is important that children have some time every day where they can just relax and read!
7. Not reading yourself: Children learn from what you do and they copy you! They need to see you reading regularly.