In this week’s Princh Library Blog post, guest writer Heidi Colom shares her top tips on how to develop good reading habits and practices in children, that will stay with them through their lives.

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Literacy is important for people of all ages, and it is never too early to start encouraging good reading habits. This can certainly lead to a lifetime of enjoying reading and doing it well. What are some ways to encourage good reading habits in children? It is not as hard as one could first imagine it to be and it can be done in many ways.

Let them see you reading

This may be the most important of all. Does not have to be books- can be newspapers or magazines. But by reading in front of your children, you are setting the first good example. Not to mention it also models curiosity and inquiry- seeing their guardians wanting to learn new things will lead children to wish to emulate them.

Have books in the house

Especially at their level- but also reference ones like dictionaries and encyclopedias. Not everything can be found online. Have actual physical books with pages and pictures- not just e-books. Ideally, you would have books at many levels- beginning with early literacy books, then following with books for school age children, and eventually books for teenagers and new adults. This will allow children to learn about many subjects- even more, than television and computer programs could teach them.

Do not shy away from graphic novels

Remember in Alice in Wonderland, when Alice was turned off by the book with no pictures or conversations? Well, it is not just fictional characters who can be intimidated by big books. However, pictures and speech bubbles can greatly increase comprehension and imagination. They work for many subjects and genres- not just works of fiction with plots and characters. Nowadays, there are many graphic novel adaptations of both classic and current books. They are particularly beneficial to visual learners, but also work for auditory and kinesthetic learners.

Read to children

And not just when they are little and are not yet reading themselves. Maintain the practice with more advanced books once they can read. Read books together. This can help with their understanding of books that may seem more advanced or mature. Not to mention it is a bonding, educational, and fun experience that will lead to good memories.

Include books that teach phonics

English can be difficult to learn. The English language has 26 different vowel sounds. Phonics books are highly beneficial to both native and ESL speakers. Good phonics books include pictures and a plot- not just the letter sounds. These can be found in the Easy Readers section of the library. And they can be useful for English language learners of all ages- not just preschool and early elementary school students.

Visit the public library

A trip to the library can serve many purposes. You can read books and magazines at the library- not to mention check them out. You can participate in programs and make crafts. Some libraries even have play places and makerspaces where children can engage in creative activities on their own or with others. Not to mention when they are older, they can use the library’s resources to help with their homework- or maybe even to learn more about their hobbies! If you are traveling out of town, a trip to the local library can certainly be an educational experience- as well as an activity that can help calm down and unwind.

Acquire books in various ways

There may not always be a library or bookstore available. But many department stores, supermarkets, and even drugstores sell books and magazines for all ages. Garage and yard sales often have books for sale that may have been favorites of another generation. Many places have Little Free Libraries where you can take books, as well as donate books.

Encourage creative expression

Foster your child’s writing, drawing, and other artistic methods about their favorite books. Sometimes you may even find paper dolls and action figures about their favorite characters. Left-brained activities such as science experiments and building with blocks can work too. All these will expand not only knowledge, but also problem-solving and creative abilities.

Seek out books and information about events and places

Enjoyed your trip to the zoo? Search for books at the library about the animals they liked best. Enjoyed the newest Disney or Pixar movie? You can find the junior novelization, or even books about how to draw the characters. Watched a rocket launch? Read an article in the encyclopedia about space exploration. These will encourage not only literacy skills, but also increase knowledge and curiosity. Also, give books as presents- especially books about a child’s interests and favorite genres and subjects.

These are some ways adults can encourage good reading practices in children of all ages. Public libraries can and do provide many books, magazines, newspapers, and other items that can greatly benefit children of all ages in their literacy journey.

We will be back next week with another interesting article from the library world!

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Heidi Colom

Heidi Colom

Heidi Colom (she/her) is a Librarian at the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library in Florida. She obtained a Master of Arts in Library and Information Science from the University of South Florida in 2005, followed by a Specialist Degree in Library and Information Studies from Florida State University in 2009. Heidi is a member of the American Library Association (ALA), Public Library Association (PLA), Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), and Florida Library Association (FLA).

You can find her on Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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