Those of us who have been around for a while know “lather, rinse and repeat,” is the standard way to wash our hair. So, if you catch yourself standing in the shower reading the instructions on the shampoo bottle, it’s safe to say you’re probably a reader.

And that’s a good thing.

Reading has many benefits from building brain muscles to improving sleep and reducing stress. Check out our previous post where we shared the mental benefits of spending time with a good book.

There are even specialists called bibliotherapists who prescribe books to help people with everything from anxiety to grief or depression.

It’s important for children who are learning the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic to find an appetite for it. But promoting a passion for the written word isn’t just for kids.

An engaging read does wonders for people of all ages and is a powerful way to keep the brain active. A study shows older people who are regular readers are 2.5 times less likely to get Alzheimer’s disease and research shows those who start young can avoid symptoms of dementia.

11 Ways to Help Create a Love Affair with Reading for your Kids

Helping kids fall in love with reading means giving them a gift that will last a lifetime. And making that happen may be easier than you think.

Dr. Sheila Razdan, Chief Resident in Pediatrics at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, offers tips on how to setup a reading program for kids that will teach them to become a book lover.

  1. Show Them How It’s Done - Model good reading behaviour yourself, so that your children will want to pick it up for themselves.
  1. Read Together at Bedtime - This nourishes a love of reading and is great quality time with your child. Reading out loud helps bring words off the page and talking about the story together can make it that much more interesting. Ask questions and take turns being the storyteller.
  1. Get a Library Card  Less expensive than a bookstore, a library card gives your kid access to an entire world of books. It makes for a great outing and most libraries have reading programs that can kickstart youngsters into reading.
  1. Read What They Read - This way you can, literally, be on the same page and have meaningful conversations about the book.
  1. All Reading Is Good Reading - Don’t dismiss anything. Fiction, biographies, kids’ magazines or comic books are all perfectly fine. If it’s words on the page and your child is interested, it’s good.
  1. Make Space for Reading - It’s inexpensive and easy to create a reading nook in your home. Gather blankets, pillows or a comfortable chair and add some good light and you’ve got a reading zone of your own.
  1. Read With Friends - Book clubs are popular with parents but there’s no reason why your children can’t have one too. This can not only motivate them to read but add a fun and healthy social element.
  1. Make It Accessible - Stock up on books and strategically place them around the home so your child is more likely to pick one up.
  1. Pack Books When You Travel - Take books for a car trip or even for appointments. This teaches your child that an interesting read is a great distraction on a long journey or an otherwise boring wait to see a dentist or doctor.
  1. Suggest It as A Gift - Tell friends and family that a bookstore gift card or a book is a nice gift for your child. It takes the guesswork out of it for them and supports your child’s love of reading.
  1. Make It Part of the Daily Routine - Building small habits into your daily routine — whether it’s a bedtime ritual or an early-morning must-do— it will ease your child on to the book-loving bandwagon.Because nothing can ruin a good thing with a kid more than making it a tiring chore, we suggest keeping it short and sweet. Mix up the material and aim for a daily dose of 20 minutes.

Back to that shampoo bottle and the belief that all reading is worthwhile.

Don’t limit reading to books. When you’re driving, get your little ones to be your co-pilot by asking them to read street signs. In the kitchen ask them to read a recipe or at a restaurant allow them to select something off the menu themselves.

Done right, reading is an essential and fun part of a child’s education. During the summer, the healthy alternative to screen time offers a bona fide break for parents.