4 ways to encourage a love of reading

At Little Zak’s, we are passionate about nurturing a love of reading in our children. We believe that reading is a fundamental skill that lays the foundation for future learning and development. That’s why we use a variety of strategies, from picture books to chapter books, to encourage children to read often and widely. Our dedicated staff are committed to supporting your child’s literacy journey and helping them reach their full potential.


To create a supportive environment for reading, we have reading corners and book nooks in every centre. Our educators read to children multiple times a day, in small and large groups, with a focus on comprehension or just having fun. We give children the opportunity to choose which books they want to read, so they can fully engage in the experience. Storytime is a regular, routine, and highly anticipated part of every day at Little Zak’s, where children can immerse themselves in a world of adventure, imagination, and learning.


1. Monkey see, monkey do


One of the primary ways children learn behaviour at a young age is mimicry. They replicate actions and speech observed around them in order to learn, yet also to connect with their parents or caregivers. Reading books to yourself around your child in your leisure time will likely get them interested in the activity, and want to join in with a story of their own. You can even read to them if they show interest, as reading complex ‘adult’ books aloud is a great way to demonstrate a vocabulary and storyline that new readers will not be able to acquire elsewhere. This can be a great evening ritual for your family, especially in the downtime after work and childcare. 


As toddlers, this mode of understanding is called ‘observational learning’. A child’s tendency to imitate certain behaviours is affected by the amount of positive reinforcement they get for doing so. Especially at younger ages, ensure you praise children for reading. Being a positive role model for young readers doesn’t involve reading only books – examining newspapers, magazines, and even food labels are all imitable behaviours that will ultimately set a good impression for your little one.  


2. Book in a trip to the library 


Libraries are great places to explore for young children – they offer toys, beanbags, and free borrowing. Make it a special occasion and take a trip together to spend a few hours getting lost in some books. This will create strong associations between reading and pleasure that will continue well into later life.  Libraries also offer afternoon and holiday activities, as well as readings. Just remember to practise library voices beforehand! 


To get reluctant readers excited about the library, help your child choose books about their interests. Tactile, pop-up, or picture books can often be more appealing. At the toddler age, books with poems or rhymes are a great way for children to understand sounds and pronunciation to begin learning new words. They’re also engaging and bring a bit more anticipation to the process of reading. Your librarian is a great resource for any assistance you may need with the selection process.


3. Create a book club


This can start with only 2 people – set a book and a date, then you and your child can get to reading and have a discussion about it afterward. Asking questions about a book, like: ‘What was your favourite character?’ ‘What do you think should have happened in the end?’ can serve to assess a child’s comprehension, and also get them thinking about the book. Make sure not to grill them, just act in curiosity. Getting involved yourself will encourage a child’s budding love of reading. 


4. Stock your shelves


Children are more likely to pick up a book and start reading it if there are many around to choose from. The exposure to ‘adult’ books will challenge them far more than children’s books or picture books. Start exploring longer novels together and you may be surprised how quickly your child picks up on new vocabulary. 


Reading as a child is one of the strongest indicators for adult literacy, vocabulary, and intelligence. There is a strong positive correlation between the number of books in a childhood home and a child’s future outcomes. Children are naturally curious and begin to imitate adults from close to birth in order to learn behaviour and speech. Therefore, it’s extremely important that you present as a positive role model throughout your child’s life.