How important is it to you that your kids read? Why or why not? 📚
We have worked HARD to ensure all 4 of our kids read for pleasure. From reading to them from the moment they were born, to having books upon books available to them, to sharing our childhood favorites (that Gordon Korman book she is reading in the pic is OLD and there is a STACK of them from my husband’s childhood), to modelling reading to them, to working hard to find content/authors/topics that they connect to—it can take WORK to show them how amazing books are!📚
BUT it was never pushed on them. Never made to be a chore. They were never forced to finish a book they didn’t like. They were presented with books over and over again and for some of them the love of reading was IMMEDIATE. For one of my children, it was a little more like a slowly growing fire...one that needed tending, kindling, oxygen and gentle prodding to get it to ignite and get stronger. And, for him, when we don’t do see him reading often, and we see the fire begin to burn out, we have to work to rekindle it and help him find a new, amazing, and exciting novel. 📚
So here are my 5 TIPS to raise voracious readers!
START YOUNG! As soon as you have a handle on keeping that little baby alive and fed, start reading to them. Hold them tight, cuddle them and read to them. OFTEN. The sound of your voice will soothe them, the cuddles will create some bonding time, and your time spent reading aloud together will create memories that they will cherish for a lifetime.
HAVE LOTS & LOTS OF BOOKS - all kinds! A print-rich environment is key. Whether they are graphic novels, newspapers, comic books, board books, picture books, novels, stats from sports…ANY kind of reading is to be celebrated and encouraged. Have the books easily accessible to them. You can even create a special reading room or nook in your house that is special to them. I used to climb under my bed with a pillow, blanket & flashlight to read my special books.
LET THEM CHOOSE what they want to read! Everyone has different tastes/preferences. We can’t expect our children to like what we like. While we CAN encourage them to try many different types/genres of books, it is ultimately our job to help them find what THEY love! It may be non-fiction, it may be romance, it may be suspense / sci-fi / mystery / dystopian… just encourage them to keep reading. And, if they want to read the SAME book OVER & OVER again…oblige them! Read the book. Again and again. This is an important part of learning to read and although it can be mind-numbing for us, it is VITAL to them.
GO TO THE LIBRARY - often! Libraries are GREAT resources for us to help them find what they love. Librarians are magic! They know what new books have come out, what other children their age have loved, and what might grab their interest. They too, will encourage your children to read. Anything. They can be one of your biggest supporters. And, libraries are FREE. In our town, we can search online and have all the books we are looking for sent to our neighbourhood branch that we can walk to as a family, or that they can go to on their own when they are older.
FOCUS ON THE ACT OF READING - not on their ability to read! DON’T criticize. DON’T judge. Encourage them and make them feel comfortable to take the risk of pronouncing something incorrectly. Ask fun, inquiry questions over dinner. Read the same thing they are reading so you can bond over the excitement of the characters and topics. DON’T make it a book assignment! Don’t require ANY work associated with the reading. This reading is for pleasure ONLY. We want our children to use reading as a quiet and relaxing activity. One that allows them to jump into a make-believe world or a world filled with things they are passionate about!
And finally - BE A ROLE MODEL! Our children are watching us — all the time! They will do what we do. They will value what we show to be valuable. They will want to please us while they are little by copying/mimicking our behaviours. Show them how reading is special to you. Show them that you carve out time in your busy day to read. Model no tv time before bed and make reading before bed your family’s way of doing things.
It takes WORK to parent our children and guide them into habits and the directions that will benefit them. It takes work to lead with encouragement but not force. It takes work to help them appreciate the life-long habits that will make them healthy, happier and more knowledgeable. 📚
I would LOVE if you shared your favorite childhood/teen book that made you a reader! We can create a list to benefit all of our families!