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Discover a whole host of fancy and fabulous party tips and recipes, seasonal craft and activity ideas, and reading-readiness suggestions from the folks who bring you Fancy Nancy!

How to Raise a Reader

Reading is pleasurable, relaxing, imaginative—and research shows that kids who read do better in school. These smart and simple tips can help you encourage a lifelong love of reading in your child.

1. The most important way to encourage a love of books is to read to your child regularly—every day. Long before she can understand the words, she’ll enjoy the sound of your voice and the closeness. And children who are read to begin to understand the concepts of reading—that words go from left to right, top to bottom—and that leads to an early interest in reading.

2. When you read with your child, interact with the book. Ask her to find pictures or guess what happens next. Discuss what you’re reading, what you liked or didn’t like about the story or characters. Ask her about how she would have solved a problem in a story or what some other ideas would be to continue the tale.

3. The opportunity to encourage reading is everywhere you go. Read labels at the grocery store, play word games in the car, read billboards and road signs out loud, look through catalogs together, keep a book or two in your bag to read together while you wait to see the pediatrician or on line in a store.

4. Be a reading role model. Make sure your kids see you reading books, magazines, newspapers. Talk about what you’re reading and how much you enjoy it. Ask your kids about their reading. Leave reading materials in every room of the house.

5. Have a regular reading time in your family’s day, aside from schoolwork, such as the half hour before bedtime. Even 10 minutes of reading a day will improve your child’s reading skills, and increase her enjoyment.

6. Go digital. Kids who don’t enjoy reading “books” are often drawn to anything that looks like a digital device and might find reading on an e-reader or tablet a more engrossing experience, especially if the e-book has enhanced features. Many local libraries now lend e-books as well.

7. Looking for good ideas for your children’s reading? Look online. The American Library Association and Young Adult Library Services Association have great recommendations. Just search for “ALA reading lists.”

8. To encourage your kids to read, nothing works better than a good, old-fashioned bribe. But not money! How about letting them stay up a half hour past bedtime, as long as it’s spent reading. Or offer an exchange: every 10 minutes with a book buys 10 minutes of TV or video game time.

9. Visit the books! Take your children to the library or local bookstore regularly and explore the children’s section together. Read a few books while you’re there. Use books to gather information on topics that interest your child, such as spiders or dolls or planning a family trip.

10. Turn the tables—encourage your child to read aloud to you. Have her read you the recipe while you cook, read you headlines from a magazine or newspaper, or read aloud one of her favorite books. Resist the temptation to do too much correcting and just enjoy the experience.

11. Extend the pleasure of reading with other, related experiences. If your child has read a book about dinosaurs, follow up with a trip to a natural history museum. If she’s enjoyed a book about boats, go for a boat ride.

12. Bring a book to life. Read a book together that’s also been made into a movie, then watch the movie together. Or encourage your child to write another story—with pictures—for the same characters. A young child can draw the pictures and dictate the words to you. For older kids, have a group read the same book, then turn it into a play or movie they make themselves.

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