Building Positive Experiences with Reading


The Reading Tree SeriesFB pic sept

The early years of life are critical for brain development. By providing your child with positive reading experiences, you can help their brain make long-lasting, pleasurable connections with books and reading. What empowerment!!  Theresa Hawley, Ph.D, states in the article, ‘Starting Smart*,’ that “different experiences can cause the brain to develop in different ways because of the plasticity of the brain… its ability to develop and change in response to the demands of the environment.” If your child has negative reading experiences, their brain can signal chemicals of stress such as cortisol. On the other hand, if your child is exposed to positive reading experiences, their brain can signal chemicals of trust and happiness; such as dopamine and oxytocin.

It is our human nature to continue experiencing things that bring pleasure. Author Jim Trelease confirms this in, ‘The Read Aloud Handbook,’ when he explains that children are motivated to read more when they like the experience of it. To help your child build positive reading experiences, and feel motivated to read more, I believe they need to feel safe, comfortable, engaged, and included. So…

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Here are 8 EXCITING ways you can provide your child with positive reading experiences:

  1. When its time to read, be a role model and express your joy and excitement! We know our children are always watching our actions and reactions!
  2. Read a book or a magazine alongside your child. They will see someone they trust and love find comfort and joy in reading and that will increase their desire to want to read!
  3. Use props! For example, while you read, “If you Give a Mouse a Cookie,” find a mouse stuffed animal to join or share milk and cookies!
  4. Have a special ‘book box’ or ‘book bucket’ that you change out regularly to go with a holiday (Valentine’s Day, Christmas), season (fall, winter), or special event coming up (school starting)!
  5. Create comfortable and enjoyable spaces to read, like in daddy’s big reclining chair or mommy’s sofa by the window… or even under their favorite tree outside with a blanket!
  6. Visit your local library or bookstore! Your child can check out awesome books or listen to storytellers that help make books come to life. If you don’t have one close, book-borrow with friends who live near by!
  7. Plan engaging follow-up activities! For example, after reading a few zoo books, like ‘Good Night Gorilla,’ and ‘If I Ran the Zoo,’ visit a local zoo! Or after reading ‘A Very Hungry Caterpillar,’ go to your grocery store and pick out some foods that the caterpillar ate in the story and enjoy them yourselves!
  8. Let them have a flashlight to use when they are ‘reading’ in bed at night.

So share with me! As a child, was there a positive experience you had with a book that you still remember? I would love hear it… and maybe the person who provided that experience needs to hear a thank you!


Joanna Merideth


Keep an eye out for my soon to be published Sight Word books: ‘Mush Mush Readers’!

Previous posts in our The Reading Tree series:

* Download the Starting Smart Article @

Read more about brain development in the early years from Harvard Universtiy:


  1. Love the tips for reading with my children! I’ve noticed when I am reading a book on the couch, my 2-yr-old also goes and grabs a book. I like the idea for themed basket of books for a holiday or season! Thank you!

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