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Raising good readers

February is "I Love to Read Month," a time designated to promote literacy and celebrate the joy of reading all across North America.

I love to read and write.

One of my goals as a parent is to raise my kids to be good readers, to instill in them the love of reading and writing and to pass my passion for the written word on to them.

I believe reading to our children and teaching them to read at a young age is one of the most important jobs parents have.

Reading is the most important subject kids should master as early as possible. It is the foundation for all other subjects and the key to the academic success.

Every kid should master the skill of reading.

Here are some ideas to help parents raise good readers.

n Be a reader yourself

If you want your children to be good readers, you have to model the behavior. Be a role model and read yourself.

Make reading a regular part of your family life.

By seeing how much you enjoy reading, your children will learn to love reading, too.

n Start early

It is never too early to start reading to your child.

When it comes to raising good readers, you can never start too early. I know parents who started reading to their babies before they were born.

Don't wait until your child can sit or talk or starts school. Early education is important.

When my kids were toddlers, they got their own library cards so they could check out books in their own names. I read to them as much as I could.

n Make reading time special

Reading should be a regular part of your daily life.

After dinner or before bedtime are often favorite times to read.

Have a quiet and comfortable spot to cuddle up and read together.

Making reading time special can help your child associate reading with feeling secure, relaxed and loved.

n Read every day

Read to your child every day and continue reading together even after your child learns to read.

Many parents stop reading to their kids once they start school and learn to read themselves.

Experts suggest that we should continue reading to our kids even when they are independent readers.

Older children still enjoy listening to others read.

n Be patient

Let your child read at his own pace. Let him read the same books again and again. Children love reading their favorite books repeatedly.

The first book my daughter could read on her own was "Tiny Goes to the Library" before she attended preschool. She checked out the book from the library several times and read it many times.

n Visit a library regularly

Take your kids to the library regularly and let them explore the rich resources library has to offer. Let them pick their own books they like to read.

As they grow older and become good readers, give them guidance and suggestion of different reading options to broad their horizons.

n Match their interests and reading levels

Help your kids find books that match their hobbies and interests. They are more likely to read books on subjects they are interested in.

The books should also match their reading levels.

If the books are too difficult, they will not finish. Too easy, they might get bored. The books should be challenging but not impossible to read.

I think, generally speaking, girls read more than boys.

It's more challenging to motivate boys to read. They like to read books full of adventures, with more and action. They prefer sports, adventures, science fiction and fantasy books.

Librarians are good resources to consult if you need help with selecting the appropriate books for your kids.

n Read widely

Someone once said fiction is for the heart and non-fiction is for the mind. This maybe a simplistic statement, but I think there is some truth in it.

Most kids like to read fiction. My daughter likes to read fiction all the time while I prefer non-fiction.

I try to make her read some non-fiction as well, such as biographies, in order to get some balance of the heart and mind.

n Give books as presents

Instead of buying toys and games, give your kids books for birthday and holidays. Take them to the bookstore to choose books they like.

I am happy to say that both my son and daughter love to read, especially my daughter.

Every day when she comes home after school, she reads. She can sit quietly and read for an hour or more. Reading is one of the few things I don't have to ask her to do, but she does it on her own.

When I ask my kids to stop reading to do something else, they often say: "One more minute," or "I'll finish the chapter," which often means finishing the whole book.

I know they have already found the joy of reading.

A world of adventures and wonders await those who can read and enjoy reading.