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Ten Ways to Help Your Child be an Excellent Reader

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Reading is the most important habit to instil in children. It increases their vocabulary, which directly increases their performance at school.

Reading will expand their knowledge in every other area, and open their minds to so many possibilities. Because children are often learning the actual phonetic combinations at school, and exploring reading more on a practical side, the love of reading is best fostered at home, and supported by you, the parent.

When children are little, take the time to read to them every night, and delight in the stories you discover together. To make that time even more special, here are ten tips you can use:

1. Take the time to look at the images together
Instead of just reading the book, look at the images with your child and see what they tell you. This will teach your child to look for clues in the images that tell them what is about to happen in the book. Using this strategy will help the child increase their vocabulary by enabling them to "guess" what a new word means, just by understanding its context.

2.Use different voices for different characters in a book
By making a special voice for the ogre of the story, then for the little girl they meet, and all the other characters, you help your child imagine the story, bringing it to life. Once your child begins to read, even when they are not reading out loud, they will in turn adopt the habit of giving book characters their own voice, their own life, which will greatly increase their reading comprehension skills and work with their imagination.

3. Follow with your finger
If your child is just learning to read or is an inexperienced reader, it helps when you follow with your finger as you tell the story. This will show them that, in the English language, we read from left to right. It will also help your child discover that every word you are reading is there, on the book, and they will start visually recognizing whole words. This is like watching a movie with subtitles. You don't need to read the subtitles if you understand the language, but you tend to want to read them anyway.

4. After reading to your child, read with your child
When your child is beginning to read alone, still be sure to make this a great bonding experience, by spending time with them while they read. Many parents put a lot of effort in teaching their children to read, and reading to them every night until they learn to do it alone, but then stop once the child can read. Remember, even though the child can now read, they will miss that time with you and will not feel the same encouragement. Your job is now to show them how great it is to read. Read them stories still, from time to time, and other times just sit by them and read your own book while they reads theirs. This will not only show that you like reading, it will give the two of you time to bond and allow them to share their reading experience with you.

5. Go out with your child to buy a special book
Make it a time you spend together, just the two of you. Take your child to the bookstore and tell them you would like to buy them a book, one that they will choose. Bookstores are a wonderful place to spend a little time just browsing. Your child will later associate the happy experience when they read their book at home. If you like, instead of visiting a bookstore, you can spend time together at the library, and borrow a book instead.

6. Refer back to the stories you read together
Casually in your conversations, refer back to the stories you read together. Make comments like, "It's like the rabbit we read about, who couldn't get out of his home. Remember?" This will help make the reading experience more valuable, and teach them to enrich their personal life with the things they learned about, or experienced through the book.

7. Write a special message
When giving your child a book as a gift, write a special message on the inside, sharing with them how much you look forward to sharing this book with them, or how proud you are that they're reading so much. This will strengthen the bond between the two of you, and make the habit of reading even more enjoyable.

8. Read in front of your child
Children learn by example. If you enjoy reading, they will learn to enjoy reading just by watching you. Take the time to cozy up at home with a book you really enjoy. Children will see reading as a part of home life, and often will start to do the same.

9. Share with them what you learned from reading
During dinner time, or at any time throughout the day, share the things you read about in your books. Offer insights such as, "This book really made be think about the importance of appreciating what you have," or "I loved reading the part where the woman was faced with a life-changing decision, it reminded me of a time when I was young." When sharing preface your comment by saying, "I read today," so your children see other positive examples of how reading enriches your life. Likewise, tell your family about what you read in the newspaper, or what you learned from a magazine or blog.

10. Read your children's books
Imagine a day when your 10-year-old child finishes reading a 400-page novel, passes it to you and says, "you should read this Mom, I'm sure you'll love it. It has a really emotional part in it." This can happen. When you spend years reading together and talking about books with your child, you will develop a bond and common interest. Your children will begin to know what books appeal to you and vice versa. Reading creates confidence in children and sets the foundation for them to read more complex stories as they mature.

Literacy is one of the most important skills you can teach your child. Take the time to foster this skill at home in a way that is fun and appealing. Following these ten steps will help your child take pleasure in books, rather than viewing reading as a chore.

Happy reading!