When I was 15, I moved from Wisconsin to North Carolina at the beginning of summer. I had no friends and was so bored! My mom, seeing my boredom, took me to the Library off Rea Road to check out some books. I wasn’t an avid reader but was willing to do anything! I came across a stack of romance novels waiting to be placed back on the shelf. This was definitely not a genre of books that I had read before, but for a 15-year-old who was obsessed with the idea of love stories, it was the BEST! Unfortunately, this habit has continued and I probably have the largest collection of Romance Novels on the East Coast. Ask any of my co-workers who have seen shelf after shelf in my spare bedroom. I’m not even ashamed of this guilty pleasure! The love of reading doesn’t have to be something that your child discovers out of boredom at the age of 15. You can help to instill this love of reading early! Here are five ways to help get started.
- Beginning letter sounds game
The most common question I get during conferences is, “what I can do at home to help my child start reading.” As Montessori parents, you know that children begin their process of “reading” with recognition of letter sounds (both phonetically and visually). I suggest to parents that when reading to children they could point to the letter at the beginning of the word and say, “this word starts with mmm. Here is the mmmm.” It helps the child see the letter and hear you say the sound it makes. As your child gains more practice in recognizing sounds, you could ask him or her to find a word that starts with that sound on each page.
2. I-Spy with sounds
This is such a fun phonetic game to play in the car on your way to school or during long trips. It goes along with the first suggestion, in that it helps the child begin to recognize sounds phonetically. All of this aids in the process of learning to read. As you are driving, say to your child, “Look, I see a McDonalds… what sound do you hear at the beginning of MMMMcDonalds?” When your child is starting to recognize the beginning sounds frequently, you could extend the difficulty and said, “What sound do you hear at the end of McDonaldssss?”
3. Read Daily
Each day set aside a special time to read with your child. This could be during the evening before bed or even in the quite of the morning. (If that exists!) Don’t be afraid to start a chapter book with your child if reading the same children’s books are getting to be a tad boring for you. In the Primary classrooms, we read at least one chapter a day from a chapter book. Our classroom favorites have been: The BFG, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Charlotte’s Web, The Doll People, and any of the Humphrey books.
4. Have children select books to read
For me, there is nothing worse than someone dictating what I have to read. I don’t mind a suggestion from someone, but I like to discover books on my own and choose what I am interested in. Children are the same! Let them guide you to the topics, themes, or genres that they want to read.
5. Model reading
With all skills and behaviors, the first step is always modeling them for the child. Reading is no different! If your child does not see you reading and enjoying it, then he or she will not find the importance in reading either. I understand that reading is not for everyone (although my English major’s heart breaks for you). You can still model this by reading something that does have your interest like a magazine or a cookbook. 😊