First of all, start young. Studies show that reading to your child should begin before the age of six months, as soon as they’re able to enjoy the images and pictures inside of their books. Collect some board books, either buying them at the bookstore or getting some hand-me-downs from friends and family. All children have varying attention spans and you should keep in mind not to push too far past these limits in their attention and not force them to read, as children tend to dislike things they are forced to do not on their own determinism. Every child is different and sometimes it takes time for his interest in reading to develop and his attention span to lengthen.
Next, get your child reading on his own, but at his own speed. Studies show that kids are not ready to read at the same time. Sometimes kids don’t begin reading until six years of age, but with patience, he may still turn out to be an able, avid reader. Homeschooling the first few years is often a good way of ensuring your child isn’t forced to begin reading before he’s ready, which can leave him at a loss.
You must also set a good example yourself. I know from being the mother of three grown children how easy it can be to let your kids turn on the television or play a videogame or to zone out yourself in front of the TV. However, it’s important to show your children how much you cherish reading by taking them to the library regularly, checking out books for yourself, and turning off the TV for family reading time, where everyone can read together or, as your kids get older, read their own books separately to themselves. An environment enriched in reading is crucial in building an appreciation in children for reading and strong literacy.
The use of aids such as dictionaries, encyclopedias, and the internet is imperative. Keep a couple of good dictionaries around, simple children’s ones as well as more advanced ones, to help them learn new words and how to spell them. When they are reading about something they don’t really have much familiarity with, such as certain animals, show them pictures online or take them on a field trip to see what they’re reading about up close. This will make them more interested in what they’re reading and teach them how to teach themselves things, fostering a love for learning in them.