Reading by the end of 3rd grade is an important predictor for high school success. Students who do not read proficiently by third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school than proficient readers. Even more alarming, a student who is low-income and cannot read at grade level by the end of third grade is 13 times less likely to graduate from high school with their peers.
Here are five tips for helping your child develop a love for reading:
- Buy books that relate to their life. Let your child pick out books that have characters or pictures they relate to. Who knows? Maybe your child doesn’t dislike reading, they just haven’t found the right book yet. Once they find one, try other books by the same author.
- Read anything that inspires your child. If your child loves cooking, read and follow recipes at home. If your child loves animals, read National Geographic or online blogs about animals. If your child loves exploring, read maps or travel guides. My 11-year-old loves basketball. I promoted his love of reading by having him read about his basketball heroes and team facts.
- Keep reading aloud. Even when your child is old enough to read by themselves, keep reading fun by sharing reading time and making it quality time. Encourage your child where they struggle and give them positive feedback to keep going. With my daughter, I read aloud and then let her read. The words she has issues with, I help her gain comfort so she’s more confident the next time the word comes up. She’s six and gaining confidence with 2-syllable words. Even my 14-year-old still reads aloud. We practice this skill so he’s more confident in class.
- Let your child see you reading—even if they are not reading. Having books around the house and making reading a daily time for the whole family shows your child that reading is a lifelong skill and form of entertainment. Use dinnertime to talk about what the entire family is reading. By talking about what you’re reading and then making connections to reading and real life, you’re helping to increase their interest in books.
- Create a reading area. This doesn’t have to be costly and can be some extra pillows and blankets with a light in a special spot. Any area can be special for reading.
Children can lose up to three months of reading skills over the summer, putting them over two grade levels behind by the end of elementary school. That's why keeping your child on track and making sure they read for at least 20 minutes a day over the summer is so important.