Parents should model reading books. You might mention casually at dinner that you started a new book and cannot wait to see what will happen next. You could even have a block of time when everyone in the family is reading their own book. For the youngest children it could be 15 minutes. (If the child is too young to read and wants to take part in the reding time, give him or her a couple of picture books or even let an older sibling read the book to him/her.) With older children reading time could be 30 minutes. Do what feels right for your family. It could be a different amount of time on different nights depending on everyone’s schedule. It could be every night or on a few nights each week. Let your child tell you about a favorite part of the book or chapter. Make sure the book is at the appropriate reading level; if it is too difficult the child will get frustrated. Your child may want to keep a list of books he/she read. For fun, your child could rate the book with 1-5 stars. You can keep your own list with ratings too.
You could have Read Aloud Night. Everyone takes turns reading part of the book. For the youngest readers it could just be a word or two.
Start reading and sharing books with your child from infancy. They will love hearing your voice and cuddling. Your child will start to associate books with pleasant times. This will help develop language skills. Start with very short board books and increase the length when they are older. Keep reading stories to your children, even when they can read on their own. You can read more difficult books that they can understand but cannot read yet. It also gives you a chance to ask questions: What did you like best? What do you wish happened differently? What surprised you? What do you think will happen next? Would you like the main character to be your friend, why or why not? If you are on a business trip read a book on Zoom to your child.
Expose your child to several types of books to pique his/her interest. Children often like reading biographies of people working in a field they enjoy, for example sports or reading about people who are like them, for example a child with autism spectrum disorder may like reading about Temple Grandin. Some children like mysteries or scary books. Discuss the clues in a mystery book and take a poll of what everyone thinks is the solution to the mystery is and why. Let your child read a ghost story in the dark with a flashlight or around a firepit. Some children get hooked on reading after trying a graphic novel. Some children would rather read non-fiction books about a topic of interest. They might like histories or science or “how to” books.
If your child is having trouble reading words, you can make a game with the words that are often missed. An easy game would be a match game. There would be two cards with the same word. Make several pairs, put them face down in rows. Children turn over two cards and read them. If they match, he/she keeps the pairs. The person with the most pairs at the end of the game wins. You can help make a fun obstacle course. The child must read a word(s) and directions at each stop. A direction could be: Jump over two blocks and then stack five blocks before running to the next obstacle. You can make a treasure hunt for your child with detailed directions to read. A small token, snack, or new book could be at the end of the hunt.
Let your child read the directions to bake cookies, make an art project or do a science experiment, then he/she can collect the equipment and ingredients and bake or do the experiment or project. Your child can be a director. Act out part of a book or put on a puppet show of a chapter. You can even make costumes and a set. Have your child read the shopping list and add items he/she needs
Go to the library each week. Many libraries have story hours or shows, especially during the summer. There are often summer programs to read a certain number of books for a certificate or prize. Make a Free Little Library. Your child can read books and add his/her own books to share. It is fun to see what new books appear in the Free Little Library.
Host a book exchange. Everyone brings books to exchange. These books can be to lend or to trade for keeps depending on what the group wants. This is a great activity before vacations. It can be just for children, or it can have an adult exchange table and a child exchange table.
Make a special reading place. It could be a cozy nook in a playroom or a reading tent or a windowsill. A bookshelf with room for library books should be nearby. Let your children help design this area and redo it when they have new ideas. They can hang drawings or quotes from a book they enjoyed.
If you are going on a long ride your children can listen to a book in the car. Let them choose the books for the drive from the library, bookstore or online with your help. Before vacation let your children read about the place before sightseeing, for example if you are going to a beach, the children could read about sea creatures.
Start a small parent child book club with a few friends. You could have a monthly meeting. Everyone takes a turn to host and chooses the book. There could be activities and discussions over snacks.
Have your child email or mail a letter to a grandparent, other relative, or family friend about a book they enjoyed. Make sure the relative or friend will write back and ask a question or two or suggest a book for both of them to read.
Give your child a special book for each birthday. He/she will treasure it and may share it with their own children.
If you make reading enjoyable and part of routine, your children should become lifelong book lovers. Make sure to switch or add new activities to keep an element of surprise to your repertoire. Happy reading!