Reading Practice for Kids – How to Develop Reading Habits in Children

BOOKRClass | 2023.06.14

Reading is a fundamental skill that can have a significant impact on a child’s personal growth. However, in today’s digital age, it can be challenging to hold a child’s attention long enough to develop a reading habit – and have them prefer the world of books rather than other stimulating games and activities that surround them every day.

reading practice for kids

You’ve come to the right place, if you’re keen on exploring when kids learn to read, the challenges they face, why reading is crucial for their academic and personal growth and, of course, some practical advice on how to get started with the habit building.

Last but not least, we will not let you leave empty-handed. A list of resources is also waiting for you to support your students or your child’s reading development. Let’s get started, taking a look at the basics.

When Do Kids Learn to Read?

According to the U.S. Department of Education, most children learn to read by the end of third grade. However, children develop at their own pace, and some may learn to read earlier or later.

It’s essential to remember that children need to master the building blocks of reading before they can read independently. These building blocks include phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, comprehension, and fluency – and, of course, interest and passion for following the fate of a beloved character and the excitement of finishing a great story are key incentives for them to overcome the challenging first years. 

The Challenges of Reading in Today's Digital Age

With gaming apps, television, YouTube, and too much screen time, it can be challenging to cultivate a reading habit in children. However, reading is a critical skill that fosters creativity, improves vocabulary, and enhances cognitive development.

Parents and educators can help young learners develop reading habits by setting aside time each day for reading and providing a conducive environment that encourages reading.

How to Develop Reading Habits in Kids

Habits are not easy to build and require some key concepts to be true: consistency and strategy. It doesn’t happen overnight, and it does take a couple of clever steps to achieve, but it is so worth it!

Let’s see what are some of these steps that you can take. 

  • 1. Start Early

Begin reading to the little ones as early as possible. Reading to children in kindergarten is very useful, even if, at this point, the child isn’t an active participant.

This experience helps them prepare for the primary school and nurture their love for stories.

  • 2. Encourage Independent Reading

As students develop their reading skills, encourage them to read independently. Start with simple books and gradually progress to more challenging books, but with a smart digital tool, you could even assign books to your students through the app and give homework.

BOOKR Class for example enables students to choose their interests – such as sports, nature or animals – and the system automatically shows them books they are likely to read and enjoy. What a great way to engage them!

  • 3. Create a Conducive Environment

Create a comfortable and inviting reading environment. Ensure there’s adequate lighting, a comfortable seat, and no distractions.

  • 4. Lead by Example

Children are more likely to develop a reading habit if they see their parents and teachers reading regularly.

Set an example by reading yourself and discussing books with them – of course always in an age-appropriate manner.

why is it important to read as a child

Why Is It Important to Read as a Child?

Reading is crucial for not only a child’s academic but personal growth. It helps to develop language skills, fosters creativity, and improves cognitive development. Reading also helps children to develop empathy, social awareness, and understanding of different cultures.

Additionally, reading improves academic performance, enhances vocabulary, and improves comprehension skills. The list of benefits goes on and on, however one element stands out: reading has a positive impact on children’s mental health

Don’t believe me, believe the experts of leading universities and organizations across the globe, here are some statistics that support the positive impact of reading:

  • Research conducted by the Reading Agency in the UK found that children who read for pleasure have better mental well-being, with 76% reporting that reading helps them to feel better and 58% saying that it helps them to relax.
  • A study published in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics in 2018 found that reading to young children can improve their behavior and reduce hyperactivity, aggression, and attention problems.
  • According to a study conducted by the National Reading Campaign in Canada, 79% of parents reported that reading together helps reduce their child's stress and anxiety.
  • A study published in 2018 in the Journal of Clinical Psychology found that bibliotherapy (using books as a therapeutic tool) was effective in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety in children and adolescents.
  • A meta-analysis of 43 studies conducted by the University of Liverpool found that reading interventions had a positive effect on children's mental health outcomes, including reduced anxiety and depression symptoms. It was published in the journal Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts in 2019.

These statistics all highlight the same baseline: reading can have a massively positive impact  on children’s mental well-being.

By encouraging children to read regularly, parents and educators can help promote healthy habits and positive attitudes towards learning and self-improvement, while also providing children with important tools for coping with stress and difficult emotions.

Read in a Foreign Language

Reading in a foreign language can be an excellent way for children to develop language skills and enhance their cultural awareness. The British Council’s LearnEnglish Kids website offers a variety of reading resources to help children develop their English language skills.

There are also reading applications with graded readers developed specifically for ESL students – so you can improve reading and English skills at the same time, killing two birds with one stone. 

Reading Practice for Kids

How to change the narrative and make reading a fun and enjoyable activity, rather than a daunting task? 

Let’s see some tips and activities that can help make reading an experience for children.

Tips for Reading Books in your English classroom

What to pay close attention to during lesson planning 

  • Make sure the books are age-appropriate and interesting for your child. Let them choose books that they enjoy reading.
  • Set aside a specific time each day for reading. This will help your child develop a routine and make reading a habit.
  • Encourage your pupils to read out loud. This can help improve their reading fluency and comprehension.
  • Ask the class questions about the book. This can help learners engage with the story and better understand the content. What’s more, you can easily develop essential soft skills by introducing a topic and talking about it together.
  • Reward your students for reading. This can be as simple as praising them for their efforts or offering a small treat, but you might consider using reading logs to track your students' progress or creating a reading challenge with rewards for completing a certain number of books. You can also incorporate reading into other subjects, such as using literature to teach history or science. By making reading a priority in the classroom, you can help your students develop a lifelong love of learning and reading.
tips for reading books

Reading Activities with words

How to further discover a topic that you read about in class? Here are some ideas on how to snowball their reading and language development, starting with the reading task. Improve their writing skills, vocabulary, or creativity.

Oh, such crucial areas!

  • Play word games like Scrabble, Boggle, or Bananagrams. This can help them develop their vocabulary and spelling skills.
  • Use flashcards to practice reading and recognizing sight words.
  • Have the kids create their own stories using a list of words. This can help improve their creativity and writing skills.
  • Create a scavenger hunt with short, easy-reader books. Hide the books around the classroom and have your students find them, with a quiz question about each story. Reading comprehension meets adventure.
  • Use the books to create a puppet show. The class can act out the story while you or the digital library app you use read the book out loud.

Have your child create their own illustrations for the story. This can help them engage with the content and better understand the plot.

Teachers Handbook - the Ultimate toolkit for ESL teachers

There is no doubt that there is a variety of resources to help promote reading in the classroom. The question is: do you have time to find these resources and make sure you use reliable, quality materials that support your lesson goals?

esl toolkit

How about a collection of books that supports you in creating the most exciting and effective ESL reading lessons, aiming to make reading a habit for kids? You can download the 300 pages long Teacher’s Handbook created by BOOKR Class’ qualified teachers and educational content experts.

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