The simple fact of getting used to reading can greatly enhance the intellectual development of a minor.
Reading is an activity that has many important implications for human development. Among other things, it allows us to understand the elements that surround us as well as interact with them.
It is also a habit that can be acquired from early childhood. In this article we present some tips that can be useful to encourage reading in children, as well as the importance of promoting their interest in reading.
The importance of reading in childhood
Early childhood is considered the period from 0 to 6 years of age. Within this period, children go through different stages where some stimuli attract them more than others, which means that they are more willing to learn certain things, or through certain techniques.
For example, from 0 to 2 years of age, learning is mediated by their interaction with adults, especially with those who are their caregivers or educators. In addition, this stage is crucial because necessary skills for communication are developed.
Between 3 and 4 years of age, socialization begins to occur outside the family nucleus, generally because children start school. From the age of 4, learning occurs in a more structured way. The important reference at this time is the educational system, always on a par with the family or the closest affective nucleus.
In all these stages, language plays a crucial role for the development of the child, both for cognitive processes and for interaction with others. Language in this sense is not limited to the verbal use of words, but is a whole process through which children provide meanings and meaning to the things that surround them. The latter is what allows them to establish both a personal identity and to establish communication with others.
One of the practices that especially encourages the development of language, as well as communication and even affection, is reading. Thus, promoting reading from early childhood is important because it allows the child to understand and interact with the world, and also to understand their place within it.
How to encourage reading in children?
Reading not only has to do with the ability to decipher linguistic signs, but it is also related to different manifestations of the culture that are found around those signs and the narratives that they construct (Ramírez and de Castro, 2013). This is essential to interact, and to establish desires, emotions and feelings, as well as to externalize them.
1. Make reading a meaningful encounter
When dealing with young children (especially between 0 and 2 years old), reading is encouraged as long as it is an activity that also reinforces the bond between the child and caregivers.
That is, reading must mean something shared, because as we have seen, younger children learn especially in relation to adults. Encouraging meaningful encounters with reading is something that encourages reading itself, since it influences how children perceive and feel this activity, and therefore, how they will receive or seek it later.
Something that can be very easy is to read with them at bedtime, before taking a nap or after an activity that requires rest. Doing this long-term also allows them to associate reading with a moment of relaxation.
2. Use attractive materials and an eye-catching hue
Children learn through their senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste), so it is important to choose stories and materials that are attractive. For example, there are many books that have textures or that have sounds, and it is important to look for those that do not have many complex words or phrases.
When telling the stories ourselves, it is important to maintain a tone and a volume of voice that is striking and that changes as the story does. In this way we promote the recognition of emotions and attract the child’s attention to reading.
Another related activity is making stories with the same children, especially when they are a little older. For example, create a story about animals with pictures that the same child chooses, or with photos of the family. In the same sense, present the parts or elements that a book has (sheets, cover, drawings …) in an attractive way.
3. Allow the child to choose freely
Children are often drawn to the same book over and over again. It is important to give them the freedom to choose for themselves the story that most attracts their attention, so that their interest in reading is not interrupted.
Likewise, it is important to offer different reading modes. There is literature that is written by children, and there is literature that is written or adapted for children. Something that favors children’s interest in reading is having several options on hand and presenting them one by one, so that we allow them to explore their interests and address them freely.
4. Set aside a special and comfortable space for reading
While reading is not an activity that is reduced to understanding words or pictures, but rather our emotions, desires, needs or moods are put into play; it is also important to read in a comfortable place.
Something that can be striking for children is to allocate a special space for reading, which according to our possibilities may have, for example, a sofa at their size, small pillows or a rug, along with a basket, drawer or bookcase with different books.
5. Make sure that the daily routine includes reading (create the habit)
Reading can become a habit, and as such, it is a practice that can be reinforced through repeated repetition. Especially when it comes to older children, the habit of reading can be encouraged if we spend time daily.
If the child is not used to reading on his own initiative, it is important to do it together with him, and invite him through books that are attractive to him (although not to us) and at a pace that is prudent. In this way you can explore reading on your own interest, rather than understanding it as a tedious, compulsory or boring activity.
- Ramírez, C. (2013). Reading in early childhood. Disciplinary Spelling of the UCP, Pereira-Colombia, no. 20: 7-21.