Happy birthday to Dr. Seuss: FSU literacy researcher offers tips to get kids reading

With school-aged children celebrating the joy of reading through Read Across America Day or Dr. Seuss Day this week, many parents and teachers are capitalizing on that joy to remind kids of the power of a good book.

Florida State University Assistant Professor Lakeisha Johnson, a faculty affiliate for The Florida Center for Reading Research, has assembled a tip sheet for parents using this time to encourage their children to read more.

“Sometimes, finding the right book or format can light a spark that will stay with children forever,” Johnson said.

Here are some tips:

Let your child lead.
Allow your child to choose books based on their interests. Whether they like picture books or graphic novels, fiction or biographies, poetry or sci-fi, children are more motivated to read when they are interested in the topic.

Make reading a family activity.
Choose a time of day when all members of the family drop everything and read. Children often follow the models shown by adults and will value reading when they see their grown-ups doing it for pleasure.

Keep reading aloud.
Read books together, even when your child is old enough to read on their own. When grown-ups read aloud, the mental space needed to decode is freed up and the child can focus solely on understanding the story and actively participating in conversations beyond the text.

Introduce a fun series.
No one likes a cliffhanger. Captivating series are a great way to keep children engaged and wanting to read the next story.

Go beyond storybooks.
Reading doesn’t always have to be a traditional book. Read through a recipe book to find a new meal or dessert idea. Find a children’s magazine to spark interest in a new topic. Try listening to audiobooks for a fun switch in your normal reading routine.