Creating Good Reading Habits by Age

Happy New Year! //  ¡Feliz Año Nuevo! 

Let’s make this a new New Year New Reading Habits kind of year! It is very common for people to start new year resolutions and it’s also ok not to start new year’s resolutions. Let’s be honest, winter = cold, sleepy, hibernation mode. What I am about to share with you is something you can start now, if you have time and capacity to plan it out OR you can start later when it gets a little warmer outside and we are not all moving in slow motion. Like I always say, it is up to you as long as you remain consistent and have a routine, kids love consistency. Read along to see what kind of routine you can start setting up with your kids to help them along on their reading journey. 


Start your 2023 with this New Year Journal

4 months to 1-year-old

According to zerotothree.org , if you start reading to your baby as early as 4 months old, this means that parents will most likely keep reading to their babies as they keep getting older. It is at this stage that babies are beginning to develop language even before they even know how to speak. Remember that it’s ok to take a break if the baby is not interested in story time and make a consistent effort to do it at a similar time, or several times, during the day as it will create a pattern for your baby which will make them curious for reading as they keep growing and developing. It’s best to hold the baby in your arms as you use one of your hands to hold the book so the baby can see the book up close.

Whether you sit in a comfy chair or stand up, is totally up to you and what mood the baby is in. It doesn’t require a lot of structure at this age range, as long as you are exposing the child to books and some form of read-aloud. What I mean by “some form” is that a baby’s attention span is very short, so that means you don’t have to read a very long story to them, you can skip pages and paraphrase to shorten the story. Check out my post about Indestructible books and other types of books catered by age.

Personal Anecdote

This age range takes me back to the time my nephew was a baby. I remember reading books to my nephew when he was about 1 year old and I noticed that he was very interested in the books I would show him. This gave me a clue as to how his parents were taking the time to read to him.

When I had a chance to babysit, I would give him the choice of picking out books from his book basket in his room. I would set down board books for him to choose from. Then, he would pick up one of the books and turn the pages attempting to read it and it sounded like baby gibberish. He was simply mimicking what he saw his parents model for him. Sometimes, as I sat on the rug with him, I would pick up a book of my own and join him as we each “read” independently, which would spark his curiosity and he would climb into my lap so I could read to him. 

2 – 4-year-old Toddlers

The best time to read with your toddler is before Nap time and before bedtime, but if you can’t do it before those times, doing it at least once a day can be very beneficial. Again, having consistency will help your child cultivate this healthy habit. It can be as easy as sitting on the couch next to each other, holding them in your lap along with the book, or laying in bed with them as you read. I know this goes without saying, but having an environment that lends itself to reading is also very helpful. You can turn off the television and any other distractions, or you can put in an ambient type of music that has no words and is known to be very soothing and relaxing. It can also be hit or miss with a toddler because they are not always in the mood to read.

Giving your child an option, when possible, also allows them to use their thinking skills when given a choice. Remember if you are consistent in helping your child form a reading habit, they will be more excited and want to read daily. I know it can be hard, especially when we have technology like Youtube for Kids or Roblox out there, but it’s very important to help your child wind down with books to help them nurture their imagination and find other ways to entertain themselves and not be overstimulated with technology. Read this blog post for more ideas when it comes to reading with your toddler.

5 to 7-year-olds

As a former classroom teacher, that catered to 5 to 7-year-olds, it was very important to teach kids about reading time stamina. One of the tools that I used was a timer, yes, a timer. Every day my students and I would practice during our reading block where I would set 1-minute increments to help them build stamina for reading time. I would explain to them that as a class we would practice how to sit down and look at books, and if they were done looking at one of their books, they could grab another book from the basket that I would provide for them in their teams. The next day I would increment their practice time by 1 more minute and we would chart it on a bar chart where I would mark it by minutes with the top showing our goal of 15 minutes.

The reason that I would do this in class would be because kids came to me with different experiences with books, some had a lot of experience sitting quietly with a book, and others needed to practice because they did not have reading time in their homes. If you are someone that is trying to build a reading routine at home, you could easily practice building quiet time stamina with books at home using a kitchen timer or your cell phone timer.  

Usually, during this age range, kids are either kindergarteners or First Graders. Children at this age are recognizing upper and lower case letters, reading basic CVC (Consonant, Vowel Consonant) Words, Retelling stories they are familiar with, as well as recognizing some punctuation. Kids this age may want to be more independent during their reading time, 

8 to 10-year-olds 

At this stage, kids are somewhere between 2nd grade and 5th grade. It is at this stage where kids are still learning reading skills, but those skills have become a bit more complex because they are now reading to learn and not so much learning to read. It is well known in the education field, that around nine years old is the age when kids start losing interest in reading, hence the phrase “decline by 9” It seems to be that when kids reach 4th grade they have to read a lot more non-fiction books as well as to leave 4th grade at a higher reading level than when they first go into 4th grade.

As kids keep going up in age and going into higher grade levels, they are expected to read and learn material that will prepare them for college readiness. So making sure we take the time to keep kids motivated to read other types of reading material that is not always informational text is important. 

How do you keep them motivated to read at this age?

The first thing to do is to recognize that they are and should be more independent at this age and a way to reinforce this is to be a Reading Role Model for them. You can either read a book together or read your own individual book in the same room during a designated time. It is important for kids to see that you as an adult also enjoy reading books. The goal is to help your child read for 30 minutes each day. You can help them develop that daily routine, and if you or your child falls off the reading wagon, it’s ok because you can always get back in the swing of routines. A benefit of reading daily for at least 20 minutes will expand and expose your child to 1.8 million vocabulary words in just one year. That’s the power of daily reading. 

As I reflect back to my childhood, I feel lucky to have had this modeled for me by my mom. She would take us to the Library and we would take our time looking at books, magazines, encyclopedias, and other reading materials. It was our special time once a week to enjoy some quiet time and pick out a couple of items to take back home to enjoy individually. In today’s world, reading materials are at our fingertips but I still feel like visiting the Public Library or the Bookstore makes the reading experience even better. 


Shout Out!

If as an adult you are looking for some time to dedicate to reading for yourself, check out this fellow blogger’s post over at The Connected Reader Blog Follow her blog because Denise has Really Great Tips for Avid Readers.

Thank you!

If you have made it this far, I want to thank you for visiting and reading my blog. I hope that this helps you out with some ideas on how to help your children become better Readers.

Not All Readers Are Leaders, But All Leaders Are Readers

Harry S. Truman
Teachers Pay Teachers