Pass it Down: Instilling the Love of Books in Your Child
Being a reader has lifelong benefits. Not only are you accumulating knowledge and expanding your worldview and vocabulary, but reading can also improve your mental health. A 2009 study from the University of Sussex found that as few as 6 minutes of reading a day can lower anxiety by up to 68%, making reading a very healthy and enjoyable way to unwind after a stressful day.
Cultivating a love of books and reading in your children will add value to their lives as they grow older. Here are some ways to introduce your child to the love of reading.
Read to Them
Reading to your small child causes them to associate books with love, affection, and bonding. Having memories of snuggling on your lap as they are being read their favorite stories will stick with them through their adult lives. Additionally, reading aloud helps your child's budding imagination take form as they are introduced to imaginary lands and characters. Being exposed to so many different characters and points of view also helps to develop empathy in your child, a trait this is wonderful to cultivate as they grow into adulthood.
Engage with Their Questions
While the never-ending stream of questions toddlers are capable of maintaining can become tiresome, the fact that they are asking you questions means they are engaging with the material. Answer as many questions as you can to help them absorb the new knowledge they are gaining through reading.
Buy Them New Books
Try foregoing the typical rewards of candy and toys in exchange for buying your child a book. Making a trip to the bookstore and getting a new book as a reward will be something for your little one to look forward to, and will facilitate a love for new books in them. Additionally, it will also give them a head start on building their own library.
Encourage Their Interests
Help your child search for books on things they are very interested in. Assist them in exploring all they can about the topic. While it may not be an interest you yourself share, encourage their passions and do your best to engage in conversation with them about what they love.
Get Them a Library Card
Get your child a library card for your local library and take them there as often as you can. Not only will they be exposed to many books, but they will also be learning respect for libraries and study spaces as well as personal responsibility for the books they take out.
Make it Fun
Since most children learn to read in school, they can come to associate books with school, learning and things they don’t want to do. Combat this by making reading a regular part of home life that can encompass things they enjoy and are very excited about. Speak openly about what you are reading and what you are enjoying about it, opening a dialogue with your child about their own reading.
Books are a delightful thing to have throughout life. Introducing your child to books and reading will be giving them a gift they can carry with them all of their lives.