5 Ways to Encourage a Child in Need to Read


To encourage a child in need to read is to offer him a new world of possibilities. Reading is an essential skill, and without it a child will quickly be left behind. The ability to read at age seven can predict how much that child will go on to earn as income 35 years later!

You can make a lifelong difference just by making the commitment to encourage a child to read.

child reading a bookThe Poverty Word Gap: A Need to Read

Children from low incomes tend to have lower reading and vocabulary skills. They know fewer words and are most at risk of developing literacy problems. One of the best ways to make a difference may be by encouraging a child in need to read, and giving her the tools for later success.

Have Real Conversations

Just talking to a child often will expose him to a rich environment of words. Talk about everything that exists in the world around them. Ask lots of questions and don’t be afraid to use “big words.” The more words a child is exposed to, the better chance he has of developing crucial literacy skills.

Write Down a Story

Introduce a love of reading by helping a child to write her own “book.” Ask her to tell you a story and write it down for her. It could be completely made up or something she experienced. Even one or two sentences talking about a favorite food or animal will do. Ask questions about the story to make it richer. After you write the story down, read it back to the child and point out the words as you are reading it.

Take a Trip to the Library

For any child, a trip to the library can be an adventure. For a child in need, who may have limited resources, it can be even more valuable. Being able to spend time choosing books and being around others, who are doing the same, can reinforce the joy of reading. Make taking a child to the library a regular act of kindness to a child, if you can.

Offer Audio Books

There is no need to steer away from audio books. They can be valuable tools for introducing story structure, as well as exposing a child to new words. Audio books may be a great alternative for parents and caregivers who themselves struggle with reading or reading in English.

Read, Read, Read

The most obvious way to encourage reading is to read with the child on a regular basis. Set up a regular weekly reading date. Once the child is reading by himself, ask him to read to you, too. Both activities have been shown to improve reading compression, literacy and verbal language skills.


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