Reading is one of the most important skills for young children to have. Though there are continual articles bemoaning the death of the lifelong reader and the written words that have sustained him, studies continue to show that a child's reading skills, besides being a fairly reliable predictor of academic success, are a gift that will stick with them through thick and thin.
Computers and other electronic media may seem to be replacing traditional reading materials, but many of the practical and critical skills that underlie the act remain the same. Reading is reading on both page and screen. For all these reasons, it is important to most parents to raise a reading child. Not all parents are exactly sure how to do that however.
Raising a reading child is a lot easier to do in a reading household. There are many different reasons for this. Reading parents are much more likely to expose their children to books. Books are often all around the house, parents are often seen reading to themselves, and reading parents frequently wind up reading with their children from an early age.
All of these things help to socialize a child to enjoy books. In addition, the vocabularies in reading household are much larger and children are exposed to many more words. This can make it easier for them to acquire language and reading skills further down.
If you are not a reader then consider trying to incorporate more books into your life anyways. If you take the time to deliberately expose your children to books and read with them, your children are much more likely to associate books with pleasure rather than work. Reading with a child, both before and after they learn to read to themselves, is a good way to spend time together and improve your child's relationship with the written word.
You know your child best and if you determine that he or she is resistant to reading, then you may need to consider why that might be. Don't just give up on your child's relationship with books because it has a rocky start. Instead, find ways to make reading fun. You can read to your child, if they will not read for themselves, you can also find alternative types of reading materials to introduce them to the fun that they can have with books.
For some children, it's simply a matter of finding the right niche and encouraging it. If that means buying your child their favorite graphic novel rather than the childhood classic you loved, then so be it.
Reading should be fun for your child before it is anything else. Studies show that children who read for enjoyment progress in their facility with the written word much more quickly than children who are prodded into reading for school assignments and other reasons. That is why freedom of reading material is so important: it opens the door to a world of enjoyment.