How to teach your child to love reading

Mother and child reading
A mother reading to her child

According to research carried out by the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study, between 2011 and 2016, 58% percent of grade 4 children in South Africa cannot read for meaning and 29% are completely illiterate.

With these dire statistics, it’s no wonder that parents are determined to instil a love of reading in their children.

Research shows that reading to your child is the best way to increase their IQ and to foster a love of reading.

Children who read for fun and who don’t perceive it as a chore perform better academically. According to a study carried out by the Annie. E. Casey Foundation, School performance correlates directly with children’s reading scores.

Children who choose to read independently and love books have a higher chance of success at school, because they understand the content that they are taught.

In today’s digital age there is even more distraction from reading books. Children are constantly distracted by i-pads and i-phones, so it’s no surprise that they have very little interest in books.

Tips for turning your child into a bookworm

Firstly, start them young, read out aloud to your baby. From 6 to 12 months, babies can already start focusing on images in front of them. Choose simple books that only have one object per page, for example an apple or animal.

Between 6 and 12 months, children are more concerned with the tactile quality of the book, so pick books that engage all the senses such as texture books, pop-up books, sound books and lift the flap books.

From 12 to 18 months, children can finally start to appreciate reading and follow simple story lines. They also begin to love repetition and familiarity, so do read them their favourite bed time story twice if requested. The fact that they have a favourite story is a good sign and will hopefully set them on the path of loving books and reading.

As they get older, make sure to read to your child every night before bedtime. Take them to the library regularly and let them choose the books they would like to take out. Create a special book corner at home, with a bookshelf full of your child’s favourite books.

Most importantly, read books at home instead of watching TV or switching on the i-pad. If your child sees that you enjoy reading, then they will more than likely enjoy reading too.

By Liesl Silverman