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Make Reading Fun for Your Child

  by Jeanne Duffey for Parent & Family
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In all the hustle, bustle and commotion of raising children, we sometimes lose track of the fact that we need to stop and smell the roses, i.e., have fun with your kids.

And that’s especially true when it comes to reading to your children. Parents know how crucial reading skills are, but learning those skills shouldn’t be a negative experience for you and your child.

“Print motivation is all about the enjoyment of books,” said Lori Mangan, the Springfield-Greene County Library District’s literacy coordinator of its grant-funded Parent Information Resource Center. “If children enjoy books and reading, they are more likely to want to learn to read. Learning to read is a difficult process and the more motivated children the more likely that they will be successful.”

She said studies show that “when a child’s interaction with books is negative, he or she is less likely to enjoy reading later. Mangan offers these tips to make reading aloud to your child a pleasant experience:

  • Choose books about the particular interests of your child. If Johnny likes big trucks or Susie likes animals, you can find numerous books on those topics.
  • If your child is very young or is in the “bouncy-bouncy” stage, keep the stories short.
  • Add physical movement to the stories, encourage your child to make the motions of the characters in the book.
  • Make the experience interactive—urge your child to contribute his or her thoughts about the story as you read.
  • Ask your child questions about the stories to help develop important literacy skills and to make it more interesting for the child.
  • Later in the day, or the next day, comment about the book you read to develop dialogue skills.

And, most importantly, says Mangan, read together when you and your child are in a good mood. “Story time can be planned for times when kids are naturally more relaxed. It is important to follow the lead of the children.”

And, you know what, it’s perfectly okay to stop reading in the middle of a book if the child doesn’t seem to want to listen to a story right at that moment. “You can always come back to it later or you can choose a different book,” says Mangan.

-Jeanne Duffey is Community Relations Director for the Springfield-Greene County Library District.
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