For the Love of Reading
We all want to give kids the tools they need to succeed in school and in life. Oftentimes, families, educators, and even organizations like ours are great at articulating what we do not like, what hurts kids, or what hampers their love for learning. A recent case in point: the New York Times SchoolBook blog’s post, Dear Governor: Lobby to Save a Love of Reading, in which two parents question whether the way their son is taught and tested "ensures that children will learn to regard reading as a chore and not as one of life’s great pleasures."
However, as an organization that is dedicated to fostering a lifelong love of learning in young children through providing them with foundational reading skills, we like to focus on the positive. We frequently hear affirmations from parents of children in our program. “My child is more interested in reading now.” A Bronx parent says, “Everywhere he sees a book he picks it up and starts reading. He even tries to read the words on TV!” So, how do we do it? How do we cultivate a love of reading in young students? We sat down with our experts and came up with three simple tips:
First, start early. Studies show the importance of early education time and time again. In fact, “high-quality early childhood education helps prepare young children to succeed in school and become better citizens; they earn more, pay more taxes, and commit fewer crimes.”1
However, it is not just about studies, but about common sense. Struggling through an activity over and over is frustrating, even for adults. By cutting out years of unnecessary struggle through early intervention, you can help your child develop positive feelings toward reading and learning.
Second, praise often. Again, it seems like common sense, but sometimes we forget how uplifting a high-five or saying “good job” can be. The next time your child exhibits their knowledge, give them some words of praise. Even if it is reading a street sign or food label, letting your little one know you are proud of them gives them an incentive to do more.
Lastly, talk about it. We know that children benefit immensely from being read to, but they also benefit from having conversations about what they read and what is going on around them. Our tutors ask their students questions about what they have read to check for comprehension and to reinforce the skills they gain. You can also reinforce skills at home by creating your grocery list together or talking though your daily commute or bedtime routine.
We are sure you have some tips of your own. Please share them with us as we continue to focus on the tools that foster a love of reading.