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One of the most valuable gifts we can give our children is a love of the written word. So often we rely on television to entertain our children and teach them to use their imagination but how often do we really sit down with them and spend time teaching them to make their imaginations soar? We all want to teach our children about life: we want to take them to fascinating places, let them experience new tastes, sounds and cultures but in reality we often are not able to do all this for them and that’s where reading a novel can replace true human experience. But encouraging your child to read can be a difficult task. Often if they haven’t got the love of reading by the time they are six or seven the child is too busy playing or passively watching a video to want to stretch his brain and read, no matter how thrilling the reading material may be.

However, parents need not despair of their illiterate ten year olds, as below are a number of ways to encourage your youngster to read, obviously the younger the child the easier the task, but as the saying goes ‘ better late than never’.

Start out by limiting your child's time spent in front of the television. It is often so much easier for us as parents to turn on the automatic baby sitter so we can clean up or get dinner on the go: however, your child can help with these tasks and then you can sit down together to read or take turns reading to each other.

Make reading time a bonding time, especially with small children. Have a specific chair you sit in and let them cuddle onto your lap while you read. This closeness to you while reading will lend the children a lifetime of associating reading with the security of mom or dad. Have a special time in the day when you read.

Get the small ones involved in the story. Allow them to turn pages, and point to different things on the page and say what they are. This will boost his vocabulary while getting him to recognize various animals and other items. Activity stories are also fun as they get the child to do what they are doing while teaching him to pay close attention.

Ask your child questions. Remember that listening is also a skill, and one that will stand your child in good stead when he or she attends school. The sooner your child begins to listen and lengthen his concentration time the easier school will prove to be for him.

Studies have shown that humorous stories will keep children’s attention longer than other stories. So try and get age appropriate books for your child from the local library.

Reading is a gift and literacy a basic need as well as a right. With the right reading skills your child will find studying much easier and in an increasingly technological world where more and more information as well as novels are being placed on the internet your child will need to learn skills like sifting information from mere rubbish-information. Encouraging your child to read will pay dividends when he or she is at school as well as after school, as it helps people relax as well as being a vital escape into a magical world.