There she sat on the first step of the staircase with a children’s book spread out across her lap. The soft, summer breeze had loosened some strands of hair and made them dance playfully beside the little girl’s cheeks. But she did not notice. She was lost in the exciting Bible story of Joseph and had completely forgotten time and space. Suddenly, she heard her mother calling. “Manuela, come inside, it is time for bed!”

“Mom, I’m coming!” I just want to finish the story.”

Books! We had them in literally every room of our house. However, the bookcases in the living room and in my father’s office were the places where most of them could be found. We had books in different colors and sizes, in different languages, and about different topics. My parents used to read to me in the evening before I went to sleep, but I was also happy just to sit on my bed, on the sofa, or on a kitchen chair and immerse myself in a story. On our trips to Germany or Spain, the long hours of driving became more enjoyable with something to read. Even the moments spent in a waiting room at the doctor’s office became less boring. I can still see my parents sitting on the beach during our summer vacations, both absorbed in their reading. They would usually share and discuss both the content and their thoughts with each other. My father also used to go to the local library on a regular basis for his “treasure hunt.” My parents’ example left quite an impression on me and influenced me largely. Still today, my love for books has not changed. It is very difficult for me to leave a bookshop without a book under my arm. In fact, on my travels I like to explore the local bookstores and buy something to read as a souvenir.

Setting the foundation for reading success is necessary before your child begins first grade and is crucial to academic achievement in a variety of subjects. Research shows that reading to children as early as infancy can give them a strong base for language concepts and cognitive skills related to print.

Here are some ideas for turning your child into a little bookworm.

  1. Make books a part of everyday life– Always have books around the home or at school. That way you and your children are ready to read anytime, even if it is only for ten minutes.
  2. Join your local library– Get your child a library card. They will be able to get their hands on many different types of books, but, as a parent, you should always monitor their choices.
  3. Read about something they are interested in, that is also compatible with Christian principles– Help your child find the right book – interesting autobiographies, encouraging Christian children’s stories, colourful Bible stories, exciting books about missionaries, informative non-fiction books about nature and animals.
  4. Get comfortable– Snuggle up together somewhere warm and cozy, whether it is in bed, on a beanbag, or on the sofa. Make sure your child has a place where they can read on their own as well.
  5. Be interactive– Discuss what's happening in the book, point out things on each page, and ask engaging questions, such as, “Where did we stop last time?” “Can you remember what’s happened so far?” “What do you think will happen next?”
  6. Read whenever you get the chance– Have a book or magazine with you for any time your child is required to wait, like at the doctor's office or at the dentist. 
  7. Read favorites again and again– Encourage your child to re-read the books and poems they love. Re-reading helps to build fluency and confidence.
  8. Enjoy bedtime stories– Establish a routine and read with your kids at bedtime as often as you can. It is a great way to end the day and to spend valuable time with them.
  9. Make the most of rhyme and repetition– Books and poems with rhymes and repeated words or phrases are great for getting your kids to join in and remember the words.
  10. Point to the pictures – If there are illustrations, relate them to something your child knows. Ask them to describe the characters or situation or what will happen next. Encourage them to tell the story by looking at the pictures.
  11. Be a "study buddy" – You can help your child organize information, look for key ideas in books, and practice reading aloud. Point out everyday tasks, like interpreting instructions, recipes, and road signs, that require solid reading skills.
  12. Be creative – Sing songs, read rhyming books, and say tongue twisters. Also, let them learn Bible verses and Christian quotes by heart. These help kids become sensitive to the sounds in words.
  13. Gently correct your young reader – When your child makes a mistake, gently point out the letters he or she overlooked or read incorrectly. Many beginning readers will guess wildly at a word based on its first letter.
  14. Be your child's #1 fan – Ask your child to read the morning worship or to read aloud what he or she has written for school. Be an enthusiastic listener and give positive feedback.

"When the people read it, they were filled with joy by the message of encouragement." Acts 15:31 GNT)

by Manuela Di Franca
Master of Education in Teaching German and English as a Foreign Language | Germany

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