How do children develop a lifelong love of reading?

According to leading literacy experts, a child’s reading development begins before they start kindergarten. The activities that you and your child engage in together, prior to entering elementary school, are extremely important for building a strong literacy foundation – for future academic success. But what exactly can parents do to instill a passion for reading in their children?

Here’s a list of fun literacy-based ideas parents and children can do together to promote a lifetime of reading pleasure.

Establish a bedtime story routine

This 15-20 minute time period is important because it establishes a great habit and prepares kids to carve out their own daily reading time when they can read independently.

Make story reading interactive

When you are reading to your child pause periodically and ask open-ended questions. Expand upon your child’s answers and have them suggest alternative characters and endings. Ask them to make predictions based upon what you have read or the images in the book. It’s so important to engage children as active listeners by participating in animated conversations throughout the story instead of listening to a story read from beginning to end without stopping. Interactive reading at home supplements what kids know at school, as teachers move through 6 critical phases to improve reading comprehension.

Integrate reading into experiences in your daily adventures

Make a special trip to the library to check out books. Ask the librarian to show your child how to find books on self-selected topics. Pick a day of the week to return to the library on a regular basis. Align experiences to what you’re reading. For example, read a book about vegetables and then talk about them while eating a meal together.

Expose your children to different types of written and printed materials

such as magazines, take-out menus, letters and ads. Discuss how the print appears and all the possible purposes including informing, educating, persuading or amusing.

Demonstrate the connection between print and the actions we make in our daily lives.

For example, open up an app on your Smartphone and ready the daily weather report to your child. If it’s cold and windy with a chance of snow, have your child decide how they should dress for this weather.

Encourage conversations to help children master language skills.

Reading skills and reading comprehension skills require thinking, asking questions, integrating information, and drawing conclusions.   Ask open-ended questions about your child’s day or the story you just read together. Ask lots of “why” questions such as, “Why do you think the pediatrician asked how many fruits and vegetables you eat each day?”

Educational research supports parental involvement to positively influence their child’s reading development. Integrating reading and language skills into daily family routines and activities is easy and influences your child’s vocabulary and oral language skills. Enjoy this time with your child, as you set the stage for them to become engaged and fluent readers.

As discussed with NCC, the trusted home learning experts, the benefits of reading are vast, and it should be something everyone tries to do as frequently as possible. Get reading today to increase your brain power, grow your confidence and understand the power of the written word.

Dr. Susan Hall is a nationally recognized educational consultant and founder of 95 Percent Group, Inc.   Follow her on Twitter: @SusanHall_EdD  (