Want tips for raising readers? Here’s how to raise kids who love to read, and four special tips to get you started!
As a child, I can remember taking weekly trips to the library with my mother and sister. We’d return home with bags full of books. Lots and lots of books. So many books, in fact, that it seemed preposterous to think that we would actually read them all in one week. We could barely carry them out the door!
It wasn’t unusual for us to read through a novel in one sitting. We read some rather lengthy ones, too; I can remember reading Gone With the Wind as well as it’s sequel, Scarlett. We read Jane Eyre. We read the Nancy Drew series. We read books about love and adventure and fantasy and life.
When my own children came along, I desperately wanted them to learn to love reading, too. I’m happy to share that what we’re doing is working. We’ve reached the point where we have to tell our 11-year-old that no, he may not read at the dinner table (we prefer family conversation during dinner)…but we’ll let him read at the table during any other meal.
There’s a book permanently placed in his chair. He pulls his chair out, moves the book from the seat to the table, and reads while he eats. This is what he loves to do.
So how do you raise children who love to read? It may look a little different for each family, but here are a few ideas that worked for me as a child, and now works with my own children.
Raising Readers: How to Raise Kids Who Love to Read
1. Perhaps the biggest influencing factor in our love for reading is also the biggest challenge in today’s world: we didn’t have television growing up, and we don’t have one now, either.
We do have some other ways of watching shows or movies online, like a Netflix account, but we’re strict about screen time anyway, so even that’s limited. When it’s not easy to sit and watch, you tend to choose to sit and read.How to raise #kids who #lovetoread - When it's not easy to sit and watch, you tend to choose to… Click To Tweet
2. Kids need to see mom and dad reading, especially in the early years.
I was discussing this with a friend last night; she loves to read, and credits seeing her father reading often as why she grew to love reading. He’d read the newspaper and then share the paper with her, encouraging her to read along. When kids see their parents reading, they want to do it, too. It becomes a part of what you just…do. It becomes a habit. And it becomes a special memory with that parent. This is crucial to raising readers.
3. Consider reading as a privilege rather than a punishment.
Promote reading as something exciting we get to do, rather than something they have to do. Please don’t ground them and force them to read a book. Encourage the privilege of reading, “Yes, you can stay up past bedtime tonight, but only if you’re using that time to read your new book.” Kids love the idea of getting to stay up past bedtime, and this has helped make reading an exciting privilege for them.
It also helps encourage some independence, since we expect them to turn the lights off at a given time. For example, “Bedtime may be at 8 pm, but you can stay up until 9 pm if you’re reading. I expect your light to be out at 9 pm, though, or you’ll lose this privilege.” Let your child have a special bedside reading lamp, like this genius spherical, cordless lamp — it’s a useful reading tool for many kids.
4. Talk about books! Talk about them often, and in a positive way.
We get excited about certain books, especially antique books or classic books. We have a small collection of antique books (I love them!) and we share them with the kids. Carefully and gently, we open the pages and show them the date inside, “Wow! This one has a copyright from 1905 – can you believe it?! That was over 100 years ago!” Together we talk about what times may have been like back then.
We also talk about what we, as parents, loved to read growing up. My oldest has read Swiss Family Robinson several times because, 1) it’s a great adventure story, 2) it’s a classic, and 3) he grew up hearing how much I loved the story when I was a kid. Talking about your favorite books will help make reading contagious!
Looking for a few book ideas? Here are some that have been favorites with our 11-year-old son over the past few years:
- Fiction: Swiss Family Robinson, Indian in the Cupboard, Return of the Indian in the Cupboard, the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, any Calvin & Hobbes books
- Non-Fiction: George Muller: The Guardian of Bristol’s Orphans, Escaping the Holocaust: A True Story, Who is George Lucas
Do you have a child who loves to read? Do you have experience raising readers? Please share in the comments!
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