Its World Book Day today yayy! Kids are excited because today they get to dress as story book characters or as their favourite authors. My kid in boarding school sounded excited when he told me on the phone that he was going to be dressed as Prof. Wole Soyinka and my daughter very carefully picked out her outfit for her chosen character, Judy Moody by Megan McDonalds. We all love to see the colourful outfits parents and kids come up with every year on World Book Day and the buzz about it on social Media.

In the spirit of the World Book Day celebration we are excited to share tips to help kids love reading.

We are talking about teaching kids to LOVE reading and not teaching kids how to read. That would be a completely different topic.

Reasons why kids should love to read:

You may ask why it is important for kids to love reading. For me the most important reason is that reading captures the imagination of a child. The ability to visualise the ideas and stories they read about is amazing. Also, reading improves a child’s vocabulary – Kids learn new words and how to put them in context by reading texts. Another fantastic reason a child should love to read is that they can learn about different stuff.  Reading can help reduce screen time and is a great way to maintain peace and quiet. A child reading a book always looks cool (I’m sure you agree) and best of all, reading is fun.

It is lovely when a child loves to read but if your child isn’t quite interested in books, here’s what you can do to help:

Tips to help a child love reading:

  1. Read aloud to your kids: if you have babies, toddlers, kids in preschool or early grades, you can have a daily ritual of reading aloud to them. Bedtime may be the best time as you cuddle up with them and read their favourite stories. It is okay to read the same stories over and over again as long as it’s a story they love to hear.

For those who are older, you can read together. How do you do this? You can read alternate pages, so child reads one page, mum or dad reads the next page or you may choose to alternate chapters instead. This way you both enjoy some precious time together while your child enjoys a good story and will want to do it again.

What if there’s more than one child to read with? You can have group reading, that way you pick out one book that everyone loves and you all can read chapters in turns – this is usually fun.

a father reading with his kids
  1. Get the series: When a child likes a book in a series reading the rest of the series becomes easier. They already know the character and would love to know what happens in the next instalment.
  2. Go for the genre they like: No matter how well written a book may be, children who are not interested in that kind of story will not enjoy reading it. For instance my daughter will not even look at a book if she feels it’s for boys. Get genres that your child is passionate about, like fantasy, princess stories, adventure, detectives, science fiction, sports or animals. If they love it they will read it.
  3. Use books to mark an occasion: When a child can connect to a book he will surely read it. So give him a book about the tooth fairy when he loses a tooth (yes the tooth fairy is not our culture but it is fun and will make your child read that book). Get a book about travelling when you are about to go on a trip, or a book on how to care for a pet when he gets a new pet. This works well with the little ones mostly.
  4. Try the Funny books: As a parent it may seem curious that a kid would love a book like Captain Underpants. I know! (LOL) I found it a bit strange when I first saw it. You can talk about the content with your kid but do not make a fuss about it. If you feel uncomfortable about the content, please let them know but if the content is fine, let them go ahead.
  5. Comics can be great: Some kids love comics but as a parent you may think “oh if only he would read story books as much as he reads comics” well, comics are books too, fun books for that matter and if your kids love them then let them have them.
  6. Books must be age appropriate: When a book is too advanced for a child she may not understand the words used and will tend to get discouraged from reading it. Also when a book is far below the child’s level, it will be too boring to read. The idea is to get books that are exciting to read to make your kid want to go on.
  7. Reduce screen time: You will definitely want to replace some screen time with reading to encourage them to focus on developing their interest in books. The car is also a great place to read.
  8. Size should not matter: We are trying to get a child to enjoy reading so be careful not demand that your child reads a ‘’bigger” book because you feel that those are the types of books he should be reading. You should also help your child understand this if she feels embarrassed about her book being too small (or maybe only my kids say that) . It’s important that they are able to finish the book they are reading.

Be committed and have fun: 

Like with most things in life, we need to be committed to make this work. Do not be discouraged if you do not see changes as quickly as you would wish to see them. Help your kids make out time to read for fun.  Be consistent and enjoy bonding with your child by reading with him. Mum and dad can be part of this if possible, work around your schedules and create a time for reading that works for the family.

Remember to encourage your children as they make progress in loving to read.

a kid reading