As English is not my native language but the main language for my children, I always try to find the way to build their vocabulary. It is not only because of the exams and schools, but also because as George Orwell writes in ‘1984’, the words that are available for the purpose of communicating thought, tend to influence the way people think.
As the reading is the most important tool we have to build the language, I would like to talk about how to help your child to develop love for books.
Step 1: Reading to your child
As I was talking to my friend Claire, who will start teaching Letters & Number for toddlers at 3 House Club from September (and is a teacher by education), she suggests to focus on quality of reading not the quantity. Choose a small chapter or a page from a book and when you read to your children remember:
1) make the effort to read with expression so the story becomes more fun and engaging;
2) when you come across difficult vocabulary or an expression, explain it to your child or give a synonym she/he will understand;
3) after you read a piece of a book, have a short discussion about it with your child, to ask what they thought about it, how it made them feel, what they have done in the same situation, etc.
Step 2: Helping children to choose the book they will enjoy reading
In my house I have a child who cannot stop reading while the other one is a bit more difficult to get involved with the book. If you have the same, my main suggestion is not to give up and is not to label your child that she/he does not like reading. It is about finding the right book that can get your child engaged. Here are some steps that may help you:
1) Go with your child in the book store and let him/her browse and choose the book him/herself;
2) Maybe move a step back for a simpler vocabulary – when I read a book to my children I always choose one book slightly above their vocabulary level, but when I pick up the book for my children to read, I focus on them enjoying the story and finding it easy and fun to read not to ruin their love for reading;
3) Ask your child to have a chat with his/her friends to see what they like reading as your son/daughter are likely to enjoy it too.
4) There are also a lot of wonderful online sources for reading list. My favourite is www.lovereading4kids.co.uk as it has a breakdown by age and the site adds new books regular.
Step 3: Set a routine time for reading
If you allocate a regular reading time at your household, let’s say it is 10 min after dinner, it will be less an argument every time you want your child to pick the book up.