It should be the number one priority when teaching a child to read. Even before teaching them to decode words on a page, or understanding phonics, or boosting their reading comprehension. We, as well-meaning adults, often jump in to teach our children the mechanics. Rather, our very first job is to nurture a love of reading. All the rest needs to be done, of course, but it’s important to have that piece in place.
If the big focus is on teaching your child the mechanics of reading – the child will learn to read. (The timeline will vary depending on the individual.) But do you want kids who just know how to read, or do you want kids who read because they love to? Kids who can’t imagine life without stories? Kids who delight in choosing their own books?
A child who feels pressured to read, or develops anxiety about learning to read, who associates it only with taking a quiz or writing a book report, will grow up believing that reading is something you just have to get through, to check off your list in order to get on to something you really want to do.
When your priority is encouraging a child’s love of reading, you get both, a child who can read and one who loves to read. Even if your child isn’t reading the impressive books that someone else’s children are reading, even if they don’t read as many books, or analyze everything they read, make their love of reading the goal. That will serve them well for a whole lifetime.
You can find out more about teaching the love of reading and learn to read books on our website.