Raising a Reader in the Digital Age

Reading to and with your child is widely recognized as one of the best things you can do for them. It exercises the brain and helps them learn, remember, reason, and pay attention. With screens taking up more of our time (parents and kids alike), how do we ensure that we are raising a reader?

1. Raising a Reader from Birth

Read to your baby, early and often. You don’t have to start with Tolstoy, though Cozy Classics has the most adorable version of War and Peace. When they are really little, just hearing your voice will be soothing, and will help them learn rhythm, inflection, and tone. Make reading part of your routine, like before bedtime, or during feeding. This will lay the foundation for reading as a life-long comforting and enjoyable experience.

2. Books vs. Screen Time

Raising a reader doesn’t necessarily mean eliminating screen time, it means encouraging children to discover the many ways that reading can enrich their lives. Some kids will do that with books, and others will find value in comic books or video games. Every child is different, so rather than ban the tablet or smartphone, create an opportunity for positive screen time that enhances your child’s learning experiences. Books and screen time don’t have to be mutually exclusive, and the reality is, this generation has extra tools that we didn’t, so why not use them to their benefit?

3. Read-Along Videos

If you have young children, watching read along videos is a fun activity to do together. You may remember read-along books with tapes or records from your childhood. Read-along videos are the same idea. You may even find some of your favorite childhood books online. YouTube Kids has a large selection of these videos, some with the images of the actual books, and some that are more like animated versions of the book. Read-along videos are perfect for kids who need a little bit more stimulation than just sitting down with a book.

4. Literacy Apps

Play can be a wonderful way to motivate your child, even if you want to motivate them to read. If your child is spending time on the iPad, they may as well be playing games that can help them build their vocabulary, or improve their spelling skills. Apps like ABC Kids helps kids understand the relationship between written letters and spoken language. And of course, there is the old classic, Hooked on Phonics. Use these apps with them from time to time, and be ready to get excited with them over their successes.

5. Go to the Library, Online

Libraries are the perfect way to keep your kids’ book collection fresh (for free!) and help them find new subjects or authors that might interest them. More and more libraries have partnered with apps like cloudLibrary and OverDrive for borrowing e-books online. You install the app on your mobile device, sign in with your library ID, and you can borrow books for all ages, even picture books. This is handy if you don’t have time to take a trip to the library every week. And having a couple of e-books on your smartphone at all times might be just the thing you need to entertain restless kids when you are out and about. Check with your local library to see if they have a digital collection.

Reading is an important part of raising a smart and confident child. Reading to and with a child helps them develop listening, language and cognitive skills that they will carry with them their entire lives. Take the time to figure out the best way to engage your little reader, whether it’s books with bold illustrations or interactive e-books.

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