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Here’s how to instill a love for reading in your child

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There are so many things we love about our country: the sunshine, the incredibly beautiful landscapes! Our shocking literacy rates, however, are nothing to love or be proud of.

JK Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, once said: “If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book.” This is great advice for South Africans.

The Progress in International Reading Literacy study (Pirls) last year found that South Africa was ranked last out of 50 countries, among 320,000 children who participated in the study.

If you start at an early age and raise a literate child it is more likely that they will thrive in school and will be able to further their education, and employment without struggling too much. Instilling a love for reading is where it begins. We have compiled a guide to get you going.

How to instill a love for readingRealxing and reading on bed

  1. Set aside a time for reading and stick to it; either right before bedtime or before a nap in the afternoon. Your child will know when it is time to read and will start to love it.
  2. If your children reach the age where they are able to read themselves, encourage them to read aloud to you so that you can identify any problems they might have at an early age, and thuns help them or get help.
  3. You should be a good role model. If your house is full of books and your child sees you reading, they will likely want to do it too.

  4. Teach your child that books are precious and that they should handle them with love and care.
  5. If you don’t feel like reading a book, you can ask your child to make up a story or tell you a story about something that happened at school. You can also tell them stories about family members like grandparents.
  6. Offer them choices in books; if you can’t afford to buy them all the books you would love to, take them to your closest library and let them pick their own books for the week. Turn this into a weekly experience.
  7. Use different voices and sound effects while reading to your child. This will make it more fun and entertaining, and encourage them to do the same while they are reading to you.
  8. While reading to your toddler, move your finger under the words to make them aware that the symbols on the pages are telling the stories.

Books for toddlers and kids

Ages 2 to 5

Horton Hears a Who! by Dr Seuss

The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper

The Baby Beebee Bird by Diana Redfield Massie

Ages 4 to 8

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban

Notable and quotable

“There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world; love of books is the best of all.” – Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

“I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book.” – JK Rowling

“There’s no such thing as a kid who hates reading; there are kids who love reading and kids who are reading the wrong books.” – James Patterson


By Natassha Burrell

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