School begins in Okaloosa County on August 12 and most students are required to read between 20-40 minutes each school night, depending on what grade they’re in.  Relatively speaking, that’s a very short time for us adults, but some kids might scream “oh no, not reading!” but they think nothing of spending hours on end playing video games or watching tv.

Let’s face it…many children simply do not want to read.  This could be for many reasons, including they would rather play on their electronic gadgets, watch television or just simply play.  And there’s nothing wrong with any of this…in moderation.

Parents, reading is a great time to bond with your child.  As a matter of fact, reading before bedtime to younger children can also induce sleep…which is a win-win for everybody.  At our house, either my daughter or I read to my 3-year-old granddaughter every night for at least 30 minutes and she loves it, especially when we change our voices to act out the characters!  Two of her favorite books are “Goodnight Moon” which I also love and “The Wonky Donkey”.  The Wonky Donkey is one of the funniest, silliest books ever and it makes me laugh every time that I read it.  I think I like it more than she does.

Some parents might think they’re really just too busy and just can’t take 20-40 minutes out of each day for reading, but it really pays off in the end and it could and should be fun! There are many benefits to reading to or listening to your child read.  Just six benefits of reading, among many others are:

  • Mental Stimulation
  • Stress Reduction
  • Knowledge
  • Vocabulary Expansion
  • Improved Focus and Concentration
  • Better Writing Skills

All of these skills will help take your child to the next level in school.  And surely, each and every one of us want our children to succeed and be the best they can be.  Below are 6 way to make reading fun for your child, and you, as well:

  1. Pick the right books
    Making reading fun starts with selecting a book your child will enjoy reading. Ask your child what kinds of stories he or she likes reading best (Adventure? Fantasy? Sports? Animals? Dinosaurs?) Make a list of books in these categories and use it to help your child choose what he or she will read next.
  2. Read aloud with your child
    Reading aloud with your child can add a bit more excitement to any book. Make the story more fun by using different voices for each character and an expressive voice for dramatic parts. You can also take turns reading aloud together, choosing a character you will each provide a voice for.
  3. Act out the story
    Help your child bring some extra excitement to reading by using his or her imagination. Have your child draw pictures of what he or she is reading, act out the scene, put on a character puppet show, or make up alternate endings.
  4. Encourage all forms of reading
    Reading doesn’t always have to mean picking up a book. Magazines, newspapers and even the backs of cereal boxes (they and you can learn about ingredients) are other great reading materials that feel less like “work” to your child—but they still help your child practice and improve his or her reading skills.
  5. Create a reading space
    Make a reading area or fort where your child can read and relax on his or her own. Add blankets, pillows, and a variety of books, and your child will have a reading corner where he or she can read a book whenever the urge to read hits.
  6. Make connections
    Make connections between what your child is reading and your child’s own experience. Read adventure books before you take a camping trip, dinosaur books before you visit a museum, and so on. This will help make reading (and learning) more exciting for your child.

Reading for pleasure has social benefits and can also improve our sense of connectedness to the wider community.  Reading increases our understanding of our own identity, improves empathy and gives us an insight into the world view of others.

So come on parents, break out those books and get a jump-start on the new school year!

Written by: Nellie Bogar Founder/CEO