Thanks to Speakaboos for sponsoring this conversation.
One of my 3-year-old’s favorite treats is when we let him stay up late and hang out in our bed reading as many books as we can.
“Tonight I want to read FIFTY books!” he’ll declare with delight.
I’m delighted too (even if the idea of actually reading fifty books with him sounds a bit exhausting!). It’s wonderful to see him that excited about reading.
That’s because I know an early love of reading creates lifelong readers and learners. A child who loves reading from a young age is more likely to succeed in school and develop a healthy curiosity about the surrounding world.
But like many passions, it has to start early. It’s much easier to cultivate a love of reading in young children than it is to try to play catch-up later on.
Want to encourage your preschooler to #ChooseReading? Here are seven fun ways to get your 3, 4, or 5-year-old enthusiastic about books and learning.
7 Ways to Foster a Love of Reading in Your Preschooler
1. Be a reading role model.
It’s no secret that children learn more from what they see than from what we say. So it’s important that we do more than just pay lip service to the importance of reading.
Does your child only see you relaxing in front of the television? If so, it makes sense that your kid isn’t chomping at the bit to curl up with a book.
We as parents can play a powerful role simply by modeling for our children what it looks like to be a person who loves reading.
2. Make reading an interactive experience.
For young children, the more engaging a reading experience is, the better. With their itty bitty attention spans, it’s highly unlikely they will enjoy reading if it always requires them to be passive and still.
To combat this, try using different voices for each of the characters when you’re reading with your preschooler. Or ask him/her simple questions as you move through the book. (Why do you think that character feels sad? Which of the flowers in this picture is your favorite?)
You can also utilize the power of technology to create a highly engaging, interactive reading experience for your preschooler. We do that using Speakaboos, the reading app for kids ages 2-6 that turns screen time into reading time.
Technology is here to stay, so it’s important for parents and educators to find ways to utilize it effectively to support children’s learning and development. Created by renowned educational media experts, Speakaboos approaches kids’ screen time as an educational opportunity through the use of engaging digital stories that promote active learning.
Because it’s so engaging and interactive, my 3-year-old is just as likely to open up the Speakaboos app as he is other digital games and entertainment. Speakaboos is helping him #ChooseReading!
3. Read with a furry friend.
Incorporating your preschooler’s pet or favorite stuffed animal into the reading experience only makes it that much more fun for them.
Sometimes we like to pick two books to read before bed or nap time—one chosen by my 3-year-old and one “chosen” by one of his stuffed animals. He loves to cuddle up with his Pooh Bear or puppy dog and help them read “their” favorite books.
4. Target your preschooler’s interests.
Especially with young children, it matters less what they’re reading and more that they’re reading in the first place. Sometimes we parents worry so much about the reading material being “educational” that we forget to just focus on whatever our children love!
So if your daughter loves dinosaurs, read about dinosaurs. If your son loves Thomas the Tank Engine, read books featuring Thomas the Tank Engine.
That’s one of the other things we love about the Speakboos reading app: Its reading library features over 200 stories categorized by high-interest topics like vehicles, animals, robots, princesses, etc. It’s easy for kids to find stories they’re interested in or to discover new interests!
What’s more, there’s a good mixture of original, classic, and popular stories and characters. So you can read a story about Elmo one night, then read an interactive retelling of The Three Little Pigs the next, and then read a story of a brand new friendly robot the next.
In the end, if your preschooler is interested in what she’s reading, she’ll be motivated to read and then read some more.
5. Embrace repetition.
I know you don’t want to read your preschooler the same book over and over again a million times. I know you don’t because I don’t either!
But before you slap your palm against your forehead when your child picks the same book again, remember that the repetition is actually really important for him in terms of speech development, vocabulary enhancement, and reading comprehension. And preschoolers just love knowing what’s going to happen next!
6. Encourage anytime, anywhere reading.
My son and I have a little spot in his room where we curl up together to read books before bedtime, which is great. But it’s important for him to learn that reading can be done anytime, anywhere—no special reading nook required.
That’s why I always keep a book in the car, in his backpack, and in his baby sister’s diaper bag. Long car ride? Look at a book. Waiting at the doctor’s office? Read a book. Need a break from running around at the park? Pull out a book.
The Speakaboos app is also perfect for on the go, since it can be used on computers, tablets, or mobile devices (it’s available through iTunes for iOS, Google Play for Android, and at Speakaboos.com for the web).
And unlike many apps and websites, Speakaboos is available offline. No internet connection? No problem!
7. Don’t take away reading as a punishment.
This one is particularly challenging for me. When my 3-year-old is dawdling and bedtime has long since passed us by, it’s easy for me to say, “Hurry up or we’re not reading books tonight!”
But I always cringe after I say it. I don’t want to use reading (or not reading) as a consequence.
When he dawdles and we’re running late, I never take away brushing his teeth as a punishment; teeth brushing is essential. But so is reading. It’s what we always do, it’s part of the routine.
So to help my preschooler develop a lifelong love of reading, I’m trying my best not to take it away as a punishment, but rather frame it as a vital aspect of our lives.
Want to win a Speakaboos subscription?
I’m giving away a free 1-year subscription to Speakaboos (a $69.99 value). To enter, just leave a comment below sharing your child’s favorite book or storybook character!
*To win, you must provide your first and last name and your email address to use as your account login. Giveaway closes at midnight 5/31/2016.
Want to get started with Speakaboos now?
Download Speakaboos today and the next time your children engage in screen time, they’ll #ChooseReading!
Speakaboos is free to download and offers a 7-day free trial for all users. Click here to start your free trial. After the trial you can choose from a monthly or yearly subscription for unlimited access.