Updated: Apr 7, 2021
I think we'd all love to help our children to develop a love of reading. That all begins way before they begin to learn to read themselves. It starts with the books we read to them, the rich language and experience they get from hearing these stories and talking about stories with us. Importantly, in my opinion, this early love of reading is also comes from seeing us, their parent / carer / educators being good role models and actively enjoying reading ourselves!
This Post is specifically about fostering a love of books and stories - I will write a further Post about helping children to develop their love of reading for themselves also.
So here are my 20 ways that you can help your children to love books or develop the love of books that they already have. You don’t need to feel any pressure to do all of these things! But I hope that it’ll give you some ideas to expand the ways that you enjoy books with your children.
Read to your Littles regularly. Help the stories come to life by adding different voices and use an expressive tone.
Tell stories and encourage your child to do the same or help you with your story. By which I mean, make up and tell stories without using books. Your stories don't need to be very involved or long! I like to make my child the main character of these simple stories!
Visit a library as often as you can. This is a great opportunity for your child to see the huge range of books that are available without you having to buy them all! I like to choose some of the books that we take home and also allow my child to select some (even if I don't like their choice very much!).
Find out more about your Littles’ favourite authors and illustrators. Help your child to understand that authors and illustrators are real people! There are lots of fantastic videos of authors reading their own stories and art tutorials with famous children's authors.
Read in different settings. Reading bedtime stories is a fantastic idea but it doesn't need to stop there. For example, I like to read to my children while they're in the bath sometimes, we take relevant books with us to art galleries or on picnics etc.
Adapt stories together. This can turn into a little project or can be as simple as changing a few words in a familiar story. For example, changing the main character's name to your child's name or adapting the animals and colours in 'Brown Bear, Brown Bear' by Eric Carle.
Take time to read yourself at a time your child can see you reading. This is so important! Often we save our quiet reading time for when our children have gone to bed - and nothing wrong with that! However, this means our children don't often see us read OR they think we're doing something else if you read on an electronic devise. You might not get to read very much! But try reading alongside your child while they play or look at books themselves. I also like to say what I'm doing when I read on my phone. E.g. "I'm going to read a recipe on my phone now. Can you check if we have the ingredients if I read it out?"
Take aspects of favourite stories into your child’s play or life. For example, read 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar' try eating some of the foods in the book on each day of the week!
Download some audiobooks. They're enjoyable and useful especially on long car journeys. But it's also great for your child to hear a story read by someone different.
Read a book BEFORE seeing the film version! Discuss any differences you see in the film version. I'm really firm about this one! I think once your child has seen a film version of a book, that becomes the 'real' version in their minds. It can make it less likely for them to be interested in reading/listening to the book and takes away the opportunity for them to imagine the characters and story line for themselves.
Help them to make little book reviews. Take their opinion seriously - if they hated it, let them say so! Children love to share their opinions and this encourages them to develop their own tastes on books and express their ideas. You could start with young children by asking them to rate it out of 5 stars - you could just add the title and author next to that for them.
Consider writing or printing some famous quotes to do with a love of reading. Inspirational words from or about books, shows your child that you place importance on reading and the enjoyment of books. It reminds us and our children to enjoy books regularly.
Have a variety of books This doesn't have to mean that you buy hundreds of books! Swap books with friends or head to a library is you can. But what I mean here is that children benefit from experiencing different kids of books and they may not enjoy the same kinds of books as you did as a child! My eldest daughter's current favourite book (aged 7) is a Science Encyclopedia! That definitely wouldn't have been my first choice at her age! Try fact books, children's recipe books, comics, step by step guides etc.
Theme their choice of books for their interests or what’s going on currently in their world. We know that children's interests can change quickly so again I suggest a library rather than keeping up with their interests by purchasing lots of books. But if your child is currently interested in bugs, princesses, food, building... see if you can find a book that incorporates this interest.
A special place to read Consider making a cosy book nook. This could be one of those gorgeous tepees covered in fairy-lights I keep seeing (not that I'm jealous or anything!) but it could also be something simpler - such as a beanbag in a corner, next to a bookshelf.
Help them to become authors and illustrators of their own book I might need to do another whole post on this. But again, this doesn't have to be a huge project. See if together (with pictures or by you writing their words) you can create a mini book! Don't forget to add their name as the author and illustrator!
After reading a book, explore it further using technology. I know we might be wanting get our children away from screens instead of adding in more but there are some great games, videos and resources linked to favourite children's stories. It can be great to let them play in the story world or research the author further.
Research some of their favourite topics through children’s non fiction books. It can be easy to forget to include non-fiction books in our children's reading time. But using a non-fiction text is a whole other skill and you might find that your child loves finding out more about rockets or birds or whatever topic it is that they're interested in.
Read recipes or instructions aloud and with your child when cooking /playing with them. Back to demonstrating the usefulness of books and reading! Just by doing what you probably do already but doing so out loud, your child will be able to see why we might need/want to read.
‘Read’ and look at stories and comics with no words. When your child first starts school, you might find that they bring home wordless 'reading books'. This helps children to use the pictures and their knowledge of stories to infer and tell a story with increasing confidence without the potential stressor of working out and reading words. It's great if you can model this by reading / telling a story from a wordless book /comic yourself. Point out, "this book has no words! So I'm going to make it up and use the pictures to help me".
I hope that this helped to give you a few ideas for helping your child to develop a love for books and stories. Let me know which was your favourite and if you try any of these out I'd love to hear about it!
Happy reading and playing! Emily x