Raising A Reader: Steps To Take To Help Your Kids Find A Lifelong Love Of Reading

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Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.”

– Emilie Buchwald

School is starting up again, you will see it again and again: read, read, read to your kids. As someone who loves reading myself, I am a big believer in this sentiment. If you can read well, you can learn anything. I think that is why it is pushed so hard by educators!

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Here are some things we have done to help my daughter enjoy reading.

Read For Pleasure Yourself. Kids want to do what their parents do for fun. So, if they see you reading, it follows that they will see that as a fun activity and want to do it too. If you are already an avid reader, don’t wait until the kids go to bed! Let them see that this is something you like to do in your spare time. You can also set aside a quiet reading time for the whole family. You might consider setting up a Goodreads account for your child. This isn’t something I have done yet but I will once my daughter is reading more books completely on her own. It’s fun to keep track of the books you have read and get recommendations of others you might enjoy!

Read Every Night With Your Children. Make it part of your wind down routine. We read for about 20-30 minutes every night just before bed.

Take Family Field Trips To Bookish Places.  We frequently visit the bookstore and we are at the library pretty much every week. If you can get your kids into a story time at the bookstore or the library, that’s great too. We also enjoyed being a part of the summer reading program at Barnes and Noble and the library.

Let Your Kids Pick What They Want To Read. There are mixed thoughts on this, but my personal feeling is, if your kid wants to read something (age appropriate of course), let them go for it within reason. It’s a good idea of course to make sure it doesn’t go against your family values or beliefs and to know what your children are interested in reading, even if you aren’t personally interested in it.

Magazines Count Too! My daughter has a few magazine subscriptions and she enjoys getting mail! Groupon and other sites will occasionally have magazine sales so keep an eye out for those.

Don’t Treat Reading As A “Punishment.” Reading should be fun, and not something you have to do in order to do something else, such as “read for 15 minutes and then you can watch TV.” TV is fun too; no one has to read all the time!

Have Plenty Of Books In Your Home. I read a statistic one time which said that kids who were raised with 500 or more books in their home are more likely to go to graduate school. That seemed crazy to me at the time, but they were talking about ALL books in the house-those you have, those your spouse has, those your child has. You don’t need 500 books to make a difference, but having some in the house definitely helps.

Have A Reading Area In Your Home. It could be just a chair, a table and a light. Or it could be a Pinterest-worthy book nook (yes, please!).

Keep Books In The Car. We have a box of books and magazines in our car which we will occasionally go through and rotate books in and out. As long as your child doesn’t get carsick while reading, this is a great place to have that option.

As with everything kid-related, every kid is different and learns at his or her own pace. Reading is no exception. Some kids take to it and love it right away, and some kids need extra encouragement. So follow your child’s lead, be encouraging, and work with their teachers to help them learn to read.

You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be —
I had a Mother who read to me.”

From “The Reading Mother” by Strickland Gillilan

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Has your child embraced reading? What have you done to encourage them to read? Give us your tips in the comments!

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Eileen has been married to her husband, Eric, an Air Force officer, since 1998. A pharmacist by trade, she worked that gig for ten years until her promotion to full time stay-at-home mom in 2009. Eileen and Eric have one daughter, Little E, who is a feisty little girl obsessed with Octonauts. As a military family, they move every 3-4 years, most recently from Southern Virginia to Arizona. They have lived in the Phoenix area since July 2012 and love the southwest! Hopefully they have found their “forever” home. Eileen’s passions and hobbies include photography, reading, travel, cooking, doing creative projects with her daughter, hiking and working out. She can often be found sipping a latte at Starbucks, looking for the next great read at Barnes and Noble, or browsing Ulta for the latest beauty find.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Great tips especially the one about making reading enjoyable and not as a punishment. Also 500 books! Wow! Makes me feel better about all the miscellaneous books laying around.

  2. Great tips! I think they apply to children of every reading ability. They even apply to adults. I’m sharing this on the Great Potential Press Facebook page. I work for them as its communications person. We’re an Arizona-based company that publishes books and resources for parents, educators, and gifted adults to better understand and deal with giftedness. 25% of the population could be considered gifted. Thank you!

  3. Great read Eileen. Yes I read for pleasure and have read to my kids before they were born. My MIL gifts us with books from a cute little book store in San Jose, CA. She often has books signed by authors. We have five book selves full of books and we have probably read most of them at least once. My boys are now 11 and 7 and both are avid readers and excel in reading. My 2nd grader blew me away last year when he read independently and the top of his class in 1st grade. He is on to Chapter books and finished the first 12 books in the Magic Tree house series. On vacations they love visiting the local book stores. Its so important to read to them when they are young. My boys beg me to take them to the library during summer break to borrow books. And my 11 year old likes to read historical books and biographies. He’s a history buff.

    • Hi Jane! Thank you for your comments. That is awesome that your kids are so into books and reading. It’s a great way for kids to explore their own interests 🙂

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