Clubhouse Readers, 15 Tips on Encouraging Reading in your Preschooler

"The more that you read, the more things you will know.
The more that you learn, the more places you'll go."
-Dr. Seuss

1.) Create a "Book Nook" for your child. Place books on shelves or bookcase at a child's level. Add a comfy place to sit, or just a cozy pillow and a blanket. It's simple to create an inviting place to curl up with a good book, and you'd be surprised how by simply creating the space, you'll frequently find your Preschooler snuggled up "reading" a book. Classic case of, "If you build it, they will come."

2.) Once you have created their reading space, don't limit the books to that area. Books should be everywhere! In the Clubhouse Classroom there isn't a space where you won't find a book. We have books on colors next to the art supplies, books on trains next to the train set, books about growing seeds next to our garden, and books about eating healthy in our Clubhouse kitchen. The list goes on and on. Most activities your child enjoys, can have a few related books nearby.

3.) With books being available everywhere, be sure you have taught your Preschooler how to properly "handle" a book. You can play rough with the tough truck, but when you want to read the book, turn the pages gently. Examples of what they can be rough with, and what they have to be gentle with, will remind them that books are on the gentle side. If your little one is still an "aggressive page turner", which is sometimes simply their age and excitement level, then place the tougher board books within their reach as they learn, and use the paper books when reading together, which leads to the obvious next tip...

4.) READ TOGETHER!! Create an actual reading routine. Not all parents can read a book before tucking their little one in for the night, so find a routine that works for your family. Maybe a book together in the morning over cereal, or a book while they're in the bathtub! It doesn't matter when you choose to read the book, just find a time that works for you and try to stick with it. The routine will create anticipation for reading time. Once a routine is set, don't forget it's still OK to stop what you're doing and read just because they walked over to you with a book and asked you to... but if you can't stop what you're doing, at least now you can tell them to save that very book and you will read it with them during your next special reading time together.

5.) While you're doing the reading, have fun with it. Use different voices, act out characters, sing a few lines, read fast, read slow, whisper, change it up every time. The sillier the better. Some books make it easy for you with pages like this:

I mean, really.. how else can you read that if not with dramatic flair?

6.) While reading, let them ask questions. Too often we want to read the book from beginning to end without having to stop every 3.6 seconds to answer another question, but the questions mean they're interested! Your little one is getting involved in the story, intrigued, wants to know what happens next or why something happened in the first place. Take the time to answer the questions when you're reading, even if your answer is simply "I'll bet we'll find out when you turn the page..."

7.) Let them turn the pages, especially when reading the book in the photo above ;) Not in the middle of your reading, of course, but if you have a little one who likes to page turn, when the time is right... let them. 

8.) Turn the tables and ask them questions!! Stop right in the middle of your reading and ask them "What do YOU think is going to happen next?!", "Why do you think that just happened?!".
Some of the best conversations you have with your Preschooler, will be had while reading! 

9.) Set up "book displays". Yes, right in your own home! I have several book displays in our Clubhouse Classroom, but that doesn't mean our home is off limits. Focus on something your little one is interested in, or maybe just something you know would make them laugh. Nothing fancy... just grab the book, add a few "extras", and leave it set up in plain sight. On the floor in the living room, at the bottom of the staircase (some of our favorite spots), anywhere! Every single time, the book gets paged through over and over again and I end up having to read it 10 times that day. Simple props bring the book to life, engaging little readers even more. Perfect.
(For more tips on bringing books to life, check out our Pinterest board that covers just that!)

10.) Have a Children's Dictionary readily available. When your child asks a question about a word, look it up together... in an actual book! Living in the world of Google it has become so easy to tap a few keys and have an answer, we no longer reach for dictionaries and/or encyclopedias. If we don't, how will our children even know these amazing books exist? My son has seen it enough times to know that I can press a button on my iPhone and some strange voice named Suri gives me answers to questions. I want him to know what it's like to turn the pages in a book and discover answers! When a child asks a question about an Octopus, we all look it up together. We use the Scholastic Children's Dictionary, because of all of the big, bright illustrations on almost every page. We also have an entire set of Children's Encyclopedias. Knowing that books don't only tell stories, they also provide answers, is a valuable lesson learned. 

11.) Now that I have mentioned the ever popular iPhones, or any other "smart device", be sure that is not the only thing your child ever sees YOU reading. If it's not an email, it's a text message, if it's not a text message, it's a Facebook update. Something is always waiting to be read on our screens. Let your child see you reading actual books. The examples we set are always the first thing our children learn from.

12.) Carry books everywhere. Some in the car, a few tucked in your purse or a bag. When your child asks for something to do, let them pick a book. Sitting at a table in a restaurant waiting on the food, it's always easiest to hand off a device they can play a distracting game on. If you know they are going to want to get their hands on your smartphone, then be sure to have it loaded with apps like memetales, where they have a variety of books (a lot of them *free*!) to choose from. With fun characters like Stickfiggy (one of my Son's favorites), and an app that applauds for them every time they "read" a book, this is definitely a better way to occupy them then launching upset birds at little piggies ;) 

13.) Purchasing books can get expensive. The book may be 8 pages long, and it's still more expensive than your latest 400 page novel. So be sure to get a library card. Most libraries will even provide a card for your child, linked to your card. If they don't, then make a library card together at home. Add their name, a little photo or drawing. This is the special card they get to use to borrow new books to read. Set library dates together. Let them browse, select their favorites, and give them to the librarian while showing off their homemade "library card". As they carry their new books out of the library, you just helped them create a sense of responsibility right along with a desire to read, bonus!

14.) Write a book together!! As much as I enjoy using silly voices as I read with our son, my husband took a different route. One night while I thought they were reading a bedtime story, I listened and realized they were actually making up a story as they went along. They started with the classic "Once upon a time.." but suddenly there was a pig buying 100 boxes of oatmeal, and alligators dancing with giraffes. So how does this encourage reading? Well, the way I see it, my husband turned our son into an author. Now as he tells a story, I will write the words down on paper. If he chooses to, he will add illustrations. "Look Mom, I drew the giraffe!" We put it all together, and *presto*, he is reading his own work. Sometimes as a family we all add to the story, daddy picking up where mommy left off, our son adding the grand finale. Where the excitement of other books may wear off, kids are always excited about reading their own work!

15.) Last, but not least, I refer again to the fifth tip. Always, always, always have fun. Reading at the doctor's office, or snuggled up before bedtime. Reading about Dinosaurs, or Sneetches. Reading something written by a world famous rhyming author, or written by your very own little author. Whatever it is, have fun with it. Kids love to do things that are fun, right? Soon enough your little one will be nose deep in textbooks and homework, so let them see now how reading can also be entertaining!

**Bonus Note**
Sometimes when you read the same book, 
around the same time, 
for the same reason... 
it works wonders ;)

Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away,

Ms. Liz

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