- Family and Parenting»
How To Make Reading Fun By Setting Up A Space For Small Children To Read In
Encouraging Children To Read
It's really important to get your children interested in reading at an early age. By making the process of learning to read fun and engaging, you can help to instil in your child a lifelong love of reading. Sitting with your child and reading a book together can be a great bonding exercise which is rewarding for both of you.
Telling bedtime stories is a fantastic way to introduce your child to a range of fascinating characters and different imaginary worlds, but your reading time together need not be restricted to the nightly routine. Take a leaf out of your child's preschool or nursery's book and create a bright and stimulating space in your home that's dedicated to your child's love of books.
What Do I Need To Set Up A Reading Space?
You don't need a lot of space to make a great reading area for your child. A corner in their bedroom could be cleared to make room for this. If you do happen to have a spare bedroom or a little-used dining room where you could set up a reading area, that would also work perfectly. Another idea would be to set up a reading space under the stairs. You could drape a curtain across the entrance to create a little 'cave'. It would, of course, depend on the design of your house, but find a nook where the space is not being used to its best advantage and turn it into your child's book zone.
A small bookcase is a good starting point. Choose something reasonably sturdy and make sure it isn't something your child can pull down on top of themselves. You can get a wooden bookcase that will fix to the wall or you could use wire racks that can be hung on the walls.
Rather than re-painting your walls each time you want to change the look of the space, use colorful craft paper to define the area that will be dedicated to reading. Line the walls with the paper using double sided sticky tape and then decorate with cut-out shapes representing characters or scenes from your child's favorite story. You can change this regularly as your child is introduced to new books. It needn't be expensive - just change the colored paper once in a while, or add new decorations.
Buy throw pillows, bean bags or cushions to create a comfy seating area. You want the space to be fun and relaxed so be prepared to get down on the floor with your child.
Which Books Should I Buy?
This will depend on the interests of your child. When they are very small, you will want to choose books with bright and colorful pictures and big, bold text that will help them to start to recognise words. As they begin to understand words a little better, you'll want to move on to books with more text but which still have really nice pictures. A lot will depend on your child's preferences and you will find that no matter how many books you buy, certain ones will become favorites that your child will want to go back to again and again.
If you buy a wide variety of books, selecting some which are purely for entertainment and others which have more of an educational theme, you will help to increase your child's vocabulary and they will steadily gain confidence in reading. If your child watches television, a good way to get them interested in reading books is to pick those which tie in with their favorite television shows.
Try to buy a mix of classic tales and up to the minute books so your child experiences a lot of different imaginary worlds. You should also try to find books from different cultures so your child understands from an early age that not everyone follows the same traditions as your family does.
Get Your Child Involved
Decorating your reading space is a fun activity that your child can help with. Buy craft materials such as different colored paper, glitter etc. and start to make bright pictures to put on the walls in your child's library. Ask your child which of the images they like and help them to recreate them. There are lots of printable coloring pages available on the Internet which would work well.
When your child is small, you will need to read aloud to them. Pause every now and then to ask what they think will happen next. This will engage their interest and it also helps the development of their predictive and problem-solving skills. As your child's reading develops, allow them to read stories to you. As their reading improves, select more complex texts but continue to find fun activities that relate to the stories to maintain their interest and to continue the habit of spending time together.
Make An Imaginary World
You can create a space that resembles the world of one of your child's favorite books or you could put the books aside once in a while and come up with your own stories. You can buy different fabrics and drape them over your reading space to create a little hideaway. You could lie under a blue fabric with bright yellow moons and stars and make believe you are camping out under the stars. Find a story about space exploration as a starting point and after reading it, extend the reading activity by coming up with your own stories. The more your child is able to exercise their imagination, the more they will want to find new and exciting stories to read and that should, hopefully, continue as they grow into more mature readers.