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How to Jumpstart Your Child’s Reading

Before my first child was even born, I vowed to make reading an important part of our daily lives together. Besides reading to her daily as a baby, I bought a tiny “reading chair” for her first birthday. I set up a basket of hard-back books next to the pastel-flowered chair, and told her excitedly, “This is your reading chair!”


Ever since then, my now nine-year-old daughter can’t get enough of books. As a parent, this is thrilling. I know, though, that not all children love to read. So, what can a parent do to inspire a “love of reading?”

Angel Ko, director of the Aliso Viejo Kumon Math and Reading Center explains that pre-reading, the stage before students begin reading words, is a vital time to begin fostering a child’s love of reading.

“Singing songs with your younger student and reading books aloud together are two ways to show your child that reading is a fun way to exercise their brain and imagination,” Ko explains.

Another key way to help students to becoming emergent readers is rhyming. “Reading rhyming books, or playing activities involving rhyming words is a great way to build your student’s phonetic awareness while still having fun,” she adds.

In addition to making reading a fun activity, Ko offers these tips to jumpstart your child’s reading:

The Setting. While a quiet nook with a nice snack is ideal when many of us settle down to read, most students are busy with activities. Many students will read in between activities while waiting for siblings, or after homework is finished before dinner. Keep books handy during all times of the day.

Nighttime Reading Ritual. For younger students, reading before bed with a parent is a positive bonding activity and a calming alternative to television and video games. Encourage your child to read at least twenty minutes per day and set a good example by reading your own book at the same time.

Family Reading Time + Family Fun Time = Love of Reading. Establish a family reading time when everyone reads a book of their choice for thirty minutes.

A Shel Silverstein classic favorite "The Giving Tree."

A Shel Silverstein classic favorite “The Giving Tree.”

For those parents who are consistently coaxing their child into picking up a book, Ko encourages, “Make reading a fun and positive activity by finding material and topics that are interesting and appropriate for their reading level.”

To get you started, here are Ko’s top picks for books based on the following grade levels:

Grades K-2: “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein

Grades 3-5: “The Rough-Face Girl” by Rafe Martin

Grades 6-8: “Call it Courage” by Armstrong Perry

High School and Above: “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee

The next time you are feeling overwhelmed with jumpstarting your kids love of reading, remember these words from Former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis: “There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.”

Kristal Zacharias is the mother of two beautiful, vivacious girls, and wife of a hunky husband who works in the action sports industry. For the past 15 years, Kristal has worked for several Fortune 500 companies as a professional communicator. Follow her journey at Clearly Kristal or on Facebook and Twitter.



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