Passing along a love of reading to my children has always been a parenting goal of mine. I am an avid reader and have found that raising readers needed to be something I did intentionally, and not something they would just absorb by watching me.
Here’s how we promote a love of reading in our family:
Be a reading role model.
This is definitely step 1 in raising readers. Kids watch and see everything we do. This means setting an example that reading is an enjoyable preferred activity, rather than a requirement to be endured until the timer goes off. If you’re not an avid reader, then use this as an opportunity to explore a reading hobby for yourself. The world of reading is filled limitless genres and topics of interest; find one that you enjoy and see what happens.
Read out loud
This is an easy one when our kids are young and unable to read themselves, but it is so important to continue doing as our kids grow into reading. Read books that are above your child’s reading level. Read a chapter or even just a few pages out loud every day. Read in the car, or at the dinner table, or just before bed. Read great adventures. Read classic stories. Read fairy tales and fables. This is how reading captures your children’s attention. It shows them what they have to look forward to as their reading skills progress.
Visit the Public Library
A library card is like a ticket to the world. Today’s libraries have embraced the child’s need for fun and movement. They are no longer the quiet confusingly organized basement places of my childhood. They are bright airy spaces with books showcased, organized by topic, reading level, and genre. This is by far my favorite tool for raising readers. We take advantage of many of the library’s offerings. Books without the commitment and cost. Someone else to read aloud to your kids. Ebook (most libraries have ebook apps that will allow you to rent straight from your phone/tables/computer). Summer reading programs that offer prizes, coupons, and paraphernalia to reward reading. Used book sales. Children’s library events are a great asset for creating a positive library experience that makes kids want to return often.
Invest in a bookshelf (or two)
Buy books. Don’t spend oodles of money either. Buy used books — you can often find them for well under a dollar a piece. Having books on-hand at any time is great for those “I’m bored” moments. It also shows your children that books are worth your money, and have a place of importance in your home.
Turn off the TV
Seriously. Crack open a book, turn on your Ereader, flip open a magazine, or unwrap that freshly minted comic book. Pile up the pillows, make a blanket fort, go outside and sit under a tree. Step away from the instant entertainment and embrace reading as an expected, purposeful, enjoyable activity.
On-The Go Opportunities
Audiobooks for road trips, or in our case, for the unavoidable traffic we sit in between destinations. Read while you wait in the car for school to start, or between pick-ups, or on the way to the grocery store. Encourage children to read during their other sibling’s soccer practice, or gymnastics class. Hint: this will do wonders for your phone’s battery life.
What are you doing to raise up the next generation of readers?