Children as young as six months love looking at books. Babies like the tactile feel of different fabrics, so choose cloth books with bright colours and a variety of textures. For your toddler, choose chunky board books and allow them to open and turn the pages themselves.
Don’t pressure a young child to listen to a particular story. Let them choose, even if it may not be your favourite book. Toddlers love repetition, so you’ll need some patience. Expect the same book to be chosen over and over again as your toddler learns to anticipate the words.
Reading a story is an important part of your child’s bedtime routine, but don’t forget to set aside some story time during the day as well. The sharing of some one-on-one time with your child is just as important as reading the book. Your baby or toddler will begin to associate books with comfort and closeness.
Read with gusto. Children love funny voices, so use your voice to animate the story and bring fictional characters to life. Always make it fun and you will be laying the foundation for a lifelong love of reading.
Older children still love being read to and you should aim to make some time in your weekly routine for this. In your own mind, make a distinction between learning to read and learning to love books. Whatever your child’s reading ability, make the enjoyment of the story a priority.
As your child learns to read, you can offer a wider selection of books. Don’t forget fact books. There is a wealth of books on science, history, nature, sport, art, technology and crafts to be devoured by your budding bookworm. Guide them towards a range of books from which to choose.
Provide as many books as you can for your child. This need not be expensive. There are ways to obtain books without having to spend a fortune. Swap books with friends or search book sales and second-hand bookshops for books in good condition. Use the internet to order books online. Used books can be had for less than a euro from websites like Amazon and Ebay.
Teach your child to use the local library. Show them where the various categories are located or how to find their favourite author. As your child develops a love of books, your public library will provide an endless supply of new reading material. Why not read some of the books yourself? What parent hasn’t loved the Harry Potter series as much as a 10-year-old?
Keep books in a place where your child can access them easily. This could be in their room or on their own special shelf or bookcase.
Nurture your child’s growing love of books. You’ll know you’re doing a good job when your child shuns the TV in favour of a good read!