Tammy Harris is a parent, National Board Certified Teacher, and author of Tammy’s Teachings. She is passionate about bridging the communication gap between parents and the educational community. She endeavors to provide resources and support to help parents navigate the public school system in an empowered, informed, and confident manner.

You can follow Tammy on Twitter @TammysTeachings and TammysTeachings.com.

You’ve heard it before; reading is fundamental to education. But there’s more to the story. Studies show avid readers are not only academically successful; they also enjoy an active social life, and become more informed, productive citizens.

“Reading develops a capacity for focused attention and imaginative growth that enriches both private and public life. The decline in reading among every segment of the adult population reflects a general collapse in advanced literacy. To lose this human capacity – and all the diverse benefits it fosters – impoverishes both cultural and civic life.”~Mr. Gioia, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts

In the 21st century, reading opportunities abound. There are many ways parents can encourage and inspire the love of reading.  Here are five of my favorites.

1. Model – The first, and perhaps most important way to inspire children to read, is to model.

The Reading Is Fundamental website agrees saying, “As much as they may deny it, most children want to be like their parents. Their lifelong habits start to form at the earliest ages, often by mimicking older members of the family. If they see you reading daily—both for function and for pleasure—they will more likely become avid readers themselves.”

2. Talk – Talking about what you read shows children how reading impacts your own life.

Talking to your children about what they read, allows them the opportunity to practice critical thinking skills. The more children talk and write about what they read, the better students (and readers) they’ll become.

3. Provide reading materials – In today’s day and age, an abundance of reading material is available.

  • Your local library is a great place to start. Many libraries offer free summer reading programs and events.

  • Bookstores offer the latest and greatest books and authors. This is the best place to help children discover their favorite genres and authors.

  • Computers, iPads, iPods, electronic readers (like the Kindle) and even phones, offer unlimited opportunities for 21st century readers. For younger children, there are many wonderful apps like Storia to engage kids while they learn to read.

  • Blogs like Reading is Fundamental provide numerous recommended reading lists.  Recentlly, I came across a  fantastic blog written by two teachers that provides current recommendations for middle elementary school age – Seymour Division Blog.

  • There are also electronic magazines like Sports Illustrated for Kids, Highlights for Children, and National Geographic Kids.

4. Read aloud – Kids are never too old to enjoy reading aloud. There are several academic benefits children receive when they are read to.  Listening to stories being read out loud is an excellent way for children to enjoy literature that may be beyond their reading ability.  Perhaps the best benefit, however, is the quality time you’ll spend with your child.

5. Allow boredom – For most kids, it’s easier to play video games or watch television. Create time in which all electronics are not allowed.  Boredom will lead to more interest in reading.

The love of reading is not only fundamental to success in school; it’s also critical to improving their quality of life. As my last post shows, the current educational environment makes it difficult to cultivate a child’s love of reading in school. Thus, parents play a critical role in stimulating and maintaining the joy of reading.

In our fast-paced culture, it’s often hard to find time to read.  However, inspiring your child towards a lifetime of reading is well worth the effort.