I recently sent the piece of writing below out in to the vast world hoping it would be picked up for publication. When it wasn’t, I was sad at first but then realized I had my own publishing platform right here. Just another reason to love my blog, I suppose…
When I sat down to write this piece, I wanted to convey some of the simple things parents can do to raise a reader. Interestingly, just yesterday I read a Salon article titled “My Kid Doesn’t Like Books and It’s Okay.” After reading this, I am sensitive to the fact that there are kids who are not going to be readers no matter what happens in their house. What I write below are simply a few ideas I have tried over the years both in our family and with clients. Enjoy and let me know what you might add to the list.
Raise a Reader from A to Z
Raising a reader can be as simple as A, B, C. Explore the suggestions below and watch your readers grow.
Allow your child to decide what books they want to read. Giving children control over what they read is a powerful step in raising children who choose to read.
Build a home library. Strong readers come from homes that are full of books. Buy books from book stores, yard sales and second hand stores and borrow books from the library.
Carve out special times during the day to read out loud. Breakfast and bath time are non-traditional read aloud times that can make reading fun for children.
Design your home with plenty of space for books. You can use baskets, shelves or book cases but include books in your design.
E-readers are great motivators for developing readers. Embrace this new technology.
Find books that everyone in your family can enjoy. Building a shared dialogue around books is crucial for raising a family of readers.
Give books as gifts. Pair a book with a fun toy or experience that relates to the book.
Have discussions with your children about what they are reading. Turning reading in to something social is a fun and easy way to engage readers.
Investigate new literature. While it is always tempting to share our childhood favorites, there are incredible new books being published every year. Check out annual awards and children’s literature blogs to find new titles to love.
Join a book club. Find friends or library groups and turn reading in to a social activity.
Know what your children love. If they have a hobby or a topic that fascinates, find books on that topic.
Libraries. Go often. Borrow regularly. Make library visits a part of your weekly schedule.
Move and read. If your children have a hard time sitting still when you read aloud, let them move. Building with Legos, drawing or dancing can actually help young children to focus on the story you are telling.
Notice the types of books your child gravitates toward and provide more of the same type of books for your child to explore.
Organize your books with covers facing front. Children often need to see a cover to be drawn in to the possibilities of the story.
Prove how great reading is by reading. Children who see their own parents reading, are the ones who tend to be readers.
Quit books that you don’t like. If you have chosen a family read aloud that you thought would be hit but it turns out to be a yawn, stop reading it. It is important for children to understand that reading brings pleasure so if a book is not making your family happy, find another one that does.
Reward children with reading. Let children stay up late as long as they reading, reward children with new books instead of treats.
Spend money on books. Children understand that we value those things on which we spend our money. Set aside a small amount of your family budget for purchasing books.
Talk about the books you are reading. Share the favorite part of the novel you are reading. Read aloud from an interesting opinion piece and ask your children if they agree. Talk about your favorite books when you were young.
Understand that all children learn to read and to love reading at a different pace. Allow children to develop literacy skills at their own pace.
Visit author events at local bookstores. Meeting authors is a wonderful way to turn children on to reading or on to a new type of book. Hearing the author read the words they have written or draw pictures from the book is a powerful way to expose children to real-life literacy.
Wonder out loud as you read. Show your children what good readers think while they are reading. Say things like “I wonder if James is really a good guy?” or “I wonder why the author chose to set this book in the jungle. I wonder if the story would be different if the characters were farm animals instead?”
Explore many different genres. There are many children who dislike fiction but love non-fiction and vise versa. Make sure you expose your child to all different types of books.
You can model a love of reading in your house. Read, share what you are reading and talk about the books you love.
Zero in on what your children love about books. Do they like to read on their own, hear you read aloud or just enjoy the illustrations? Celebrate the pieces of reading that your children already love and watch this love grow.