Children just need enthusiasm and excitement about reading from parents! They need to see parents who enjoy reading! It might be the newspaper, a magazine, or a favorite book, but they will know that reading is important because they see you doing it! One of my favorite photos of our daughter when she was nearing two was of her on the couch. Her little legs would not dangle over its edge --- still she sat with her legs crossed (just like Daddy) "reading" Time Magazine (upside down). She knew that reading was an important grown-up activity.
She also looked forward to the cuddle times at bedtime when we would read books just before she went to sleep. No matter how hectic the day--no matter how frustrated the parents were --- we could all count on this quiet and pleasant interlude between bathtime and sleep.
It calmed her spirit, gave her a sense of personal importance and well being (things revolved around her at this moment in the day), and included the warmth and love that we all wish surrounded us all the time.
Encourage your young reader by --
Having a special place for library books so that they don't get mixed in and lost among other books at home. Having them in a special place also keeps the dog or another younger child from getting them and ruining them.
Having a routine time to read together and enjoy books and stories.
Asking questions about what you read. Remember being able to recall details and connect text to fact is a critical stage in education. Children will be required to read for information, so if you do this you help them cross that bridge easily.
Use every opportunity to learn -- street signs -- alphabet songs and seeing if children can pick out letters in signs. You can label common things around the house with 3X5 cards!
Have a place where children can "write" remember reading and writing are all part of the same circle of communication. Some parents keep a "writing suitcase" in which are kept pencils, crayons, scissors, paper and other things that help students experience writing.
Tell stories! Remember the shape of story --- getting a sense of sequencing are important to reading.
Most importantly --PRAISE-- your child's efforts! If you will take 20 minutes a night for this activity, you will raise a reader!
Can you share an early experience when you were little and wanted to learn to read?