How to make reading fashionable to your toddler?

A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies . . . The man who never reads lives only one.”

George R.R. Martin

Today I came across a statement that was not so pleasing to read: 


According to a study by PIRLS (Progress in International Reading Literacy)

  • 78% of South African Grade 4 children cannot read for meaning in any language.
  • SA scores last out of 50 countries globally which tested reading comprehension of learners in their fourth year of primary schooling.

But why?

I know there are many factors involved that have an effect however my focal point is the home. I believe parents play a very important role in resolving this reading problem. One of the best gifts we can give to our children is to read to them as early as possible.  

“The largest challenge we have is that children enter the school system already behind the benchmark of reading development. They are then playing catch-up throughout their school careers -and their lives. They are never able to close this gap,”

 Le Roux .

Statistics:  SA released its General Household Survey which revealed that:

  • 47,6% of children between zero and four years have never read a book with a parent or guardian.
  • 44.7% of the children never had a parents or guardian draw with them
  • 36.8% never have parents tell them stories.
  • A survey of adults’ reading behavior found that most spent an average of four hours per week reading compared to 7.5 hours per week watching TV or DVDs.

over 40% of toddlers are not exposed to reading ‘home; environments. 

I was privileged to have been brought up by a bookworm, my loving grandfather. He had a library at home, full of different reading genres. He bought, read books and in his old age he was able to write a book. He didn’t really have a luxurious upbringing, his parents died while he was still young and was raised by his brother. In an age when candles where the better source of light during nighttime, he soldiered on his studies with a desire to better his life. He was a lover of books.

His story always inspires and motivates me to want to do more when it comes to reading and developing my brain, Yes Not all readers are leader, but all leaders are readers. Parents lets drop all and read to our children.

If children are not read to at a young age, it will have an impact on development including delayed development of the brain and language.

Children are not born with a desire to read, it is nurtured. In an age when reading isn’t fashionable, you can create good reading habits with young children. Here is a list of 7 tips you can implement to help your child develop a reading habit.

1 Establish a reading culture

“Children are made readers on the lap of their parents.” 

Emilie Buchwald

Have a ritual of reading with your child. You can choose to have it the morning, after meal time or at bedtime. 10 minutes spent reading a book is more beneficial than 30 minutes spent watching soapies. Make time every day to read to your child.

2  Lead by Example

Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.

Robert Fulghum

I don’t remember my grandfather ever telling me to read but his example motivated me to go to the library. Every day at 3 am or 4 am he would go to his study (at home library)and there he would read, study or research, and seeing that as a child motivated me to read. Soon I found myself paging through encyclopedias just like my grandfather did. If you want your child to start reading, lead by example. Grab a book and read.

3 Make reading enjoyable

I like to interact with the stories in the books, I make sounds or actions similar to the ones shown in the book. Sometimes we are successful to only read 2 pages from a 10 page booklet especially if it has illustrations, because along the way I pause and I allow my daughter to point at what interests her, talk about “mommy duck”or sing about objects:  we sing “Twinkle,twinkle little star” song if we see stars in the book or roar like a lion.

This makes reading enjoyable and fun for little ones. My little one now looks forward to our reading time knowing that she will sing her favorite song, jump and do lots of fun stuff.

4 Make books easily accessible

Children cannot learn to read, or love to read, if they do not have access to books and stories. The presence of books in the home has a greater influence on a child’s educational attainment than parents’ income, nationality or level of education.

5 Visit your nearest library

The library is such a great place to discover new books at no cost. I remember our first visit to the library, my little one was so excited to see so many books, and she filled our tables with different kinds of books. I watched her page through them and once done, nicely place them back on the shelve.

A while later two kids walked in with their mom and the library slowly turned into a play area, she got so excited to see her age mates reading and made new friends. Now she looks forward to our library visits knowing that she will get to pick her own book/s to read and take home for a week or two and possibly meet new friends.

Visiting the library has exposed my child to a variety of books that I might not have known existed and thus making her enthusiastic about reading a new book each week.

6  Expose your child to different reading genre

Expose your child to different genres like mystery, adventure, nature, animals and more. This I find to be one of the best ways to discover subjects that interest your child, and the more interested your child is in a subject, the more he or she will be excited to read.

7  Incorporate reading in your day-to-day routine

I have found that reading booklets, menus, road signs, helps to teach your child that reading is not limited to books, they can learn everywhere.This also allows a child’s curious mind to be nurtured.   

Whenever you can, make time to read aloud to your little one, it’s one of the best gifts

What are your ways to help your toddler(s) develop good reading habits? Leave me a comment below!


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