Kids & Company Blog

Tips to Foster a Love of Reading & Cultivate Early Literacy Skills

This blog was exclusively written for Kids & Company by Dr. Cassandra Chapman. Dr. Chapman holds a PhD in Cognitive Science of Language and is the Halton & Peel regions Campus Headmaster and an experienced instructor at Brain Power Enrichment Programs. She has experience mentoring high-potential learners, leading them to achieve their full academic potential. She is also a proud mom of two young kids and knows the importance of developing literacy skills from an early age.  

As parents, we dream of the day that our children will be able to read their own novels and enter their own worlds of fiction and fantasy. We hope that what starts as a daily bedtime routine like reading small board books to our infant will eventually lead to our children reading a series on their own over the summer months as they grow older. However, developing strong literacy skills doesn’t happen overnight. Children need to be explicitly taught literacy skills, following the science of reading, from an early age both at home and school. It needs to be made fun and engaging so that children will be naturally drawn to books and literature. It also needs to be accessible to your child and catered to their interests. We know that strong literacy skills open doors for our children. A love of reading can foster strong vocabulary, grammar skills, spelling, reading comprehension, and writing skills. Cultivating a love of literature from an early age can put your child on the path to academic success and give them a head start.

We know that as busy parents, there is only so much time in the day! Building in regular literacy-based activities does not need to take extra time and can be part of your daily routine. There are a lot of strategies you can use to help foster your child’s love of reading early on. Here are some tips: 

1) Expose your child to literacy in everyday activities

Examineyour daily routine and see how much literacy you are exposed to each and every day! Do you drive your child to child care or school? Point out the road signs to them. Encourage your child to point out signs that they see as well. At the beginning, you can start by telling your child what the sign says but eventually, they will start to notice patterns and be able to tell you what the sign says instead. Are you teaching your child the alphabet or numbers? Use those strategies when looking at road signs. If your child is not interested in identifying signs right now, use their interests to your advantage. Do they like colours? Ask them to find different coloured signs on your drive to child care or school. 

Does your family enjoy baking? Baking can be a fun activity for young children. Teach your child about the importance of strong literacy skills while looking over recipes together. Show them that you read through each line of the recipe to portion out your ingredients and why it’s important to follow the recipe! This is a fun and easy way to bring in literacy skills early and make it part of your daily or weekly routine. You can always try recreating the child-approved recipes from the Kidco Kitchen at home!

2) Read to your child every day from infancy

Make reading an important aspect of the bedtime routine when your children are infants. This can start with a short board book that becomes part of the child’s everyday routine. As they grow up, they will associate reading as part of their routine. Eventually, your toddler will ask for picture books and may even be able to participate in the story by pointing at the pictures along the way. Your child will begin asking for books at bedtime (often the same ones!). By the time they are school-aged, you can begin reading chapter books and asking your child to first identify familiar letters and eventually sight words. When they begin reading on their own, children can read a story to YOU as part of their routine. 

Finding ways to incorporate everyday literacy activities as a part of your daily routine will teach your child the importance of literature and it will become part of their day. Even better, it will become part of YOUR day too and something to look forward to!

3) Have books around the house

If you want your child to be drawn to books and pick them up naturally, have books around your home on bookshelves, side tables, coffee tables, and other accessible places for your child. Studies have shown that homes with more books around benefit literacy. In general, the more books the better, but different types of books will also play a role. Children need to be exposed to different genres of books, such as non-fiction and fiction. If books are accessible to children around their home, they are more likely to pick them up and look through them during their free time. Try to also make it part of your family’s down time to flip through books together as a family.

4) Visit the library

Libraries have so many activities for young children with all different interests. Visiting your local library and getting your child their own library card can have a lasting impact on your child’s future literacy skills. Allow your child to pick a few books to bring home. These experiences will not only teach them literacy, but they will also learn responsibility, as the books will need to be returned. Furthermore, new books can give your child a whole new perspective and can be really fun!

In addition, in our digital age, the library has so many new technological resources and workshops available that embrace technology. From an early age, your child can be exposed to different types of books, including audio books, that they might not have otherwise been exposed to at home. Furthermore, as your child grows up, more and more workshops will become available to them including 3D designing and printing, podcast recordings, and even video game tournaments. All of these experiences require some level of literacy, numeracy, or problem-solving skills. In addition, if access to these technological spaces gets your child into the library, they might even find a book or two that interest them to take home. 

5) Cater to your child’s interests

Does your child not seem as interested in literacy as you would like them to be? Have you tried changing the topic of the books you’re exposing them to? Cater to your child’s interests! Do they love dinosaurs? Fill your home with books about dinosaurs! Are they interested in history? Find age-appropriate history books. Interested in princesses? Get them some books about princesses! Children, like adults, will be more likely to pursue an activity that interests them. Meet them at their level and enjoy learning something new! 

As your child gets older, there are so many more ways to help them achieve academic success through literacy:

  1. Buy them a magazine subscription. They will love receiving the mail each month! 
  2. Join an age-appropriate local book club.  They will love the opportunity to discuss the book with children their own age!
  3. Enroll in an after-school program like Brain Power, where your child will be exposed to different types of literature and work with like-minded peers! 

Do you want to learn more? Join us for the upcoming Kidco Talk with Brain Power Halton and Peel headmaster Dr. Cassandra Chapman and CEO Vanessa Iarocci on February 13 at 12 pm. Register here.

Kidco families can enjoy a 5% discount on Brain Power’s summer programs (excluding examination preparation programs) with promo code KIDSCOSUMMER. Email for more information and find a full schedule of summer offerings (including virtual programs) here.

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