20 minutes per day.
1.8 million words per year.
That’s all it takes to give your child the gift of reading.
Early literacy skills are the foundation for a lifelong love of the written word. Studies have shown that children from 3-5 years old who were read to at least 3x per week are more likely to recognize letters, have word-sight recognitions, and are more likely to understand words in context (source).
This is just a fancy way of saying that reading to your little one early and often sets them up for success later on. I’d like to preface this post by saying I’m certainly not a literacy expert. However, I am a mom and self-proclaimed literacy nerd and I’m passionate about instilling a love of reading in children.
Books offer so much more than simple entertainment. They give both you and your child the opportunity to travel to far away (and sometimes make-believe) worlds. Your child gets to exercise their imagination as they draw with Harold and his purple crayon.
They get to spin through time and space with Jack and Annie as they travel to different time periods in the Magic Treehouse. Not to even mention, they get to go on a bear hunt and travel through rivers and forests and gloomy caves. All without leaving the comfort of their home.
Not only does reading foster imagination, but it also has a slew of other benefits as well. For starters, reading expands your child’s vocabulary as they’re exposed to new, more challenging words. Reading together also teaches them to understand the relationship between pictures and words as well as how to read top to bottom and left to right.
Beyond that, reading together is also a wonderful way to spend quality time together.
How to Foster a Love of Reading
But how can you do this? What if your little one doesn’t like to sit still? Whether your kiddo listens to entire stories or you have a total spider monkey, there are ways to foster a love of reading.
- Designate time to read together: Having a specific time to read together gives the whole family something to look forward to every day. We choose to read together before bed. We also make a point to try reading a story or two throughout the day as well.
- Read while they play: Let’s get real… most kids can’t sit still. Reading while they play is much more beneficial than you’d think. You’d be surprised at how much they pick up from the story when you think they aren’t listening. Go try it, trust me.
- Let them “read” to you: Give your little one the chance to “read” to you. Even if they can’t read words, they can definitely read pictures.
- Create themed days: If you aren’t a Pinterest mom, that’s okay. However, for those of us who are, themed days can really help kick reading time up a notch. If your kiddo loves Peter Rabbit, spend some time creating bunny art and doing garden activities.
- Let them choose what to read: Your child will feel much more inclined to read if they’re being exposed to books they’re interested in. Let them choose what to look at or read and it’ll be a much more enjoyable experience.
Podcasts/Youtube Channels For Kids
If your little one is an auditory learner, or you’ll be spending some time in the car, here are a few resources to keep in mind:
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library: Not only has everybody’s favorite Country Legend founded her own early literacy initiative, but she takes it one step further with her Youtube Channel bearing the same name. Dolly posts weekly videos on the Youtube channel of her reading various bedtime stories for viewers.
Storyline Online: Storyline Online is an award-winning children’s literacy website that features children’s books read by various actors and actresses.
Julie’s Library: Julie Andrews, along with Emma Walton Hamilton, has launched a podcast. As if you needed another reason to love the Queen. She and Hamilton read various children’s stories to their listeners.