How to raise a reader in the era of TikTok

The road to raising a bookworm today can be long and tough, but it promises to be a rewarding experience for you and your child.

When you see a child these days, there’s a good chance the little one is holding a gadget. It can be his mom’s (or his own!) smartphone, a tablet, or a portable gaming console. 

Already quite uncommon is the sight of a kid holding a book (or an eBook). But that doesn’t mean you can’t raise your child to be a reader. 

Raising a reader: Reading is always a rewarding experience
Reading is always a rewarding experience. Photos from Unsplash

Sure, there are already too many distractions, but you can show them that reading can be just as exciting as a video game. 

The road to raising a bookworm in this era of TikTok and virtual reality could be long and tough, but it could be a rewarding experience for you and your child.

Here are eight tips on how you can raise a reader. 

1. Be a reader yourself

Raising a reader: Be a reader yourself
If you want to raise a reader, be a reader.

Before anything else, for you to raise a child who loves reading, make sure you are a reader yourself.

If you haven’t picked up a book for quite some time, now is the time to start reading again. Make it a habit. Make the time and and space for books you read for yourself and books you read with your child.

According to Scholastic, you should model reading for your children by being a reader yourself. Make a point of reading a book or the newspaper while your children are in the room. As your child gets older, look for areas of common interest and read together. 

Remember: If you want to raise a reader, be a reader.

2. Start them very early

Raising a reader: Start them very early
Studies have shown that reading to your child in the womb could give them a good
head start to reading.

National Geographic says studies show that reading to your unborn child while you’re pregnant can help boost vocabulary and give them a head start to reading.

According to the New York Times, you can read anything to a newborn—obviously, they can’t be too picky yet when it comes to reading materials. It can be your go-to cookbook, a YA novel, or, perhaps, today’s paper. 

The content doesn’t matter. What’s important is the sound of your voice, the cadence of the text, and the words themselves. “Research has shown that the number of words an infant is exposed to has a direct impact on language development and literacy,” the article reads.  

There’s a catch though—the language has to be “live” and directed at your little one. You can’t cut corners by turning on the telly or having an audiobook on speakerphones. 

3. Read to your child throughout the day

Keep in mind: Nighttime is not the only time for reading. 

Most parents who do read to their children do so at bedtime. There’s nothing wrong with this familiar and comforting routine. Make sure, though, to choose a book that ends peacefully, like Margaret Wise Brown’s Goodnight Moon or Sam McBratney’s Guess How Much I Love You.

However, reading happens throughout the day. Offer your toddler or young child books to read anytime of the day instead of your smartphone if they’re getting irritable or restless. 

Keep in mind: Nighttime is not the only time for reading. 

4. Have books all over the house

Raising a reader: Have books all over the house
Keep books on the bedside table, in the living room, even in the bathroom! 

Scholastic also suggests having lots of books in your house. Keep books on the bedside table, in the living room, even in the bathroom! 

If you are frequently at the mall, make sure to visit the bookstore every time and perhaps buy a book or two if possible. 

Lucky enough to live near a public library? Visit with your child as often as you can.

5. Respect your child’s reading preferences

Raising a reader: Respect your child's reading preferences
Give your kids the freedom to select the books they want to read.

The New York Times and Scholastic recommend letting your kids take charge of what they read.

Give them the freedom to pick their own books, even if you think they’re too easy. I remember how I let my now 16-year-old son read The Diary of a Wimpy Kid for years, even when he was already an advanced reader. 

Parents who try to exert too much control over the content of their kids’ reading risk fueling the perception that reading is a chore, says Scholastic. 

6. Choose diverse books 

Raising a reader: Choose diverse books
Exposing children to diversity in books will prepare them for life in a diverse world

Make sure that even if your child gets to read what they want, they get exposed to as many genres as possible. 

This could help them become more imaginative and could further broaden their vocabulary.

Moreover, children need to encounter books that feature a variety of cultures and family structures that coexist in society. Exposing children to diversity in books will prepare them for life in a diverse world and dealing with people from all walks of life.

7. Give simple rewards

Raising a reader: Give simple rewards
You could give small rewards to struggling readers.

Another strategy that can be effective for children who are still struggling with reading or are just beginning to get the hang of it is to give simple rewards. 

If you think your child doesn’t find reading pleasurable yet, patience, my dear friend. Don’t give up just yet.

You can try offering extrinsic rewards, such as Timezone credits, screen privileges, or even a new book of their choice in exchange for concentrated reading time.

8. Talk about the books you read

Raising a reader: Talk about the books you read
Reading shouldn’t feel like a chore.

A child’s vocabulary grows through meaningful conversations with others. So talk about what they are reading. Ask them questions related to the book and ask for their opinions. Spark a conversation.

No matter your child’s age, narrate what you’re doing, talk in full sentences, and sprinkle your conversations with interesting and useful words.

A final word of advice: Don’t forget that reading at home should be a fun and inspiring experience. It shouldn’t feel like a chore. 

Don’t worry too much about targets or milestones. The most important thing here is to make sure you foster in your child a genuine love of reading. Happy reading!

Associate Editor

The new lifestyle.