Creating a Love for Reading: Strategies for Encouraging Foster Children to Read

Reading is an essential skill for success in life. Being able to read well opens up doors to new opportunities, improves critical thinking skills, and helps individuals develop their imaginations. For children in foster care, reading can be particularly crucial as it helps them build a sense of stability and security during a transitional point in their lives. Unfortunately, many children in foster care may have faced or are still facing various obstacles that can make developing a love for reading challenging. But with the right strategies and support, it’s possible for foster carers to encourage the kids in their care to love reading and reap the benefits.

Foster child with new parents on sofa and talking to social worker in meeting at home

Start Early

Introducing reading to a foster child at an early age can help with establishing a foundation for lifelong learning. Reading aloud to babies and toddlers, for example, can help with enhancing their cognitive skills and language development. Picture books with engaging illustrations can capture their attention and stimulate their curiosity. As children grow older, more complex stories and books may be introduced. Of course, not all children in foster care are very young, but it’s never too late to start encouraging a love for reading. Becoming a foster parent with provides you with a generous allowance that can be spent on anything your foster child needs, including books.

Make Reading Fun

Foster children may be more likely to have been through negative experiences in their lives that could make reading feel like a chore or even cause them pain. To combat this, as a foster parent, you can take steps to ensure that reading is a more fun and exciting activity for them, removing any negative anchors that may exist and replacing them with positive ones. Encourage them to read books with stories that they are interested in or characters that they might already be invested in, such as those from TV shows or films that have been adapted from books. For younger kids, you may want to consider making the experience more engaging by using props and sensory items, like puppets to act out stories.

Provide Access to a Wide Range of Books

Foster children have various interests, so it’s essential to provide them with a wide variety of reading materials that appeal to their tastes. If they are not sure what they like, let them explore different stories and genres until they find something that they do like. Make sure that they know it’s OK to put a book down halfway through and try something else if they’re struggling to get into the story. Consider the things that they might already be interested in, like sports or animals, to find the right books for them.

Lead By Example

Like almost all children, foster children learn by example – meaning that one of the best ways to encourage them to read more is to read yourself. This demonstrates that it’s an enjoyable activity and may spark their interest in reading more. You could also turn it into a social activity, such as setting up a family book club where you can all get together and discuss what you’ve been reading.

Reading isn’t just an essential skill; it can also be a fun and enjoyable experience. For foster children, it can provide stability, improve academic success, and be a healthy outlet for emotions, overall improving their experiences and their families experiences in life.

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