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.
[bctt tweet=”How to raise #kids who #lovetoread – When it’s not easy to sit and watch, you tend to choose to sit and #read.” username=”abubblingbrook”]
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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I agree and love to read and now our kids do too! It becomes increasingly difficult once they are teens to find age appropriate books which aren’t classics, however. Nice piece for parents of small children with easy to use tips. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks for stopping by, Jill! If you’re struggling with books for teens, have you checked out Sonlight’s reading lists for high schoolers? They may give you some fresh ideas: http://www.sonlight.com/homeschool/resources/summer/high-school-summer-readers/ We’ve enjoyed several from their lists over the years.
Have a wonderful weekend!
Thanks! I’ll check it out!
Ruth Campos says
My young teens have enjoyed Frank Peretti’s youth series, The Cooper Kids, and also Veritas Project, which includes Nightmare Academy and The Hangman’s Curse. My daughter also likes the Wormling Series by Jerry B. Jenkins and Chris Fabry, (which I also read and enjoyed as an adult).
My son and I started reading Harriet the Spy when he started playing “spies” with his friends. I know it’s not necessarily the most “boyish” book but I was able to get him to start reading because he wanted to learn how to be a spy! We read it together every night and that was enough to finally trigger a love of reading 🙂 (he’s 7). Reading is so important, thanks for sharing!
Ah, yes, what a fun book! Thank you, Leah!
Lynn Bradley says
Great article and close to my heart. Love anything on this subject. I will be saving and sharing this one.
So sweet of you, Lynn!
I grew up with a Mom who read to us in the winter often. I love to read because of this! I have always read to my kids and we are the ones who come home from the library with the huge sack of books. My oldest is 11 and reads a lot. My second daughter is 8 but isn’t as into reading, yet.
The ways we encourage reading:
1. My husband and I both read books ourselves.
2. We read to all the kids.
3. Everyone has quiet time each day which gives the opportunity for reading if they choose.
Alice LeBlanc says
Family reading time is a great way to encourage reading. And I mean the WHOLE family, even dad. We practiced this up into the early teen years and beyond.
Christine Carter says
OH these are such great tips, Jaime! I’m so thankful my kids LOVE to read and we talk about the amazing books they are into all the time. We actually do have a tv- but often my kids choose to read instead. LOVE that. 🙂
Trisha Rush says
Love this! I really enjoy reading, but my husband doesn’t love it. I’m hoping that even so, I can give my daughter a live for it.
Kelly S says
We read together when my kids were little. I still read aloud to them sometimes after school while they eat their snack. Finding a series your kids can really dig into is so helpful. My kids all love to read, but they really get locked in when they find a series they enjoy.
Marva | sunSPARKLEshine says
I’m happy to say that both of my kids (8 and 10) love to read. We even run out of books sometimes and they don’t always mind because they’ll read the same book over and over again. Dairy of A Wimpy Kid is high on their list. My 10 yo read 3 in the series in one weekend. I wasn’t too much of a fan to begin with but my the time I caught on, he was hooked.
Thanks for sharing your list, which gave me some good ideas!
Andrea Stunz says
Love this post!! When our youngest daughter struggled in reading and actually began to hate reading, we decided we could help her love books until she loved to read again. If she wanted a book, we bought it. We read to her constantly. She began to love stories and once we worked out the kinks in the reading struggles, she began to love reading.
Thanks for linking up at http://www.emptyplatefullheart.com!
Ruth Campos says
I would read exciting books to the kids at bedtime. I started out reading nursery rhymes to them when they were very young, then moved up to other books that interested them, including (at one point) a guidepost collection on modern-day miracles, then later adventure books. My youngest was not terribly interested in reading until she was in the fourth grade, then she took off like a rocket! She also reads at the table, like your son. She and her brother will read, re-read, and re-read certain books so many times that they memorize certain parts that they find funny or exciting.
Wow, your childhood sounds so much like mine! My son is only two, but I get so excited when I hear him say “just ONE more book mommy?”
I love reading aloud to my little guy; so much in fact that I’m literally working right now on a free email course about storytime for my blog readers. Love your site! Good stuff all around 🙂
That’s wonderful, Julie! Please come back and share more about your email course when it’s ready!
I always took my kids to the library for reading time when they were little. We read books overnight. Plus mom and dad love to read so we set the example.
Angela Philemon says
Great 🙂 I need to study more about this 🙂
Everyone that I see here are parents who have inculcated reading habits because they loved and enjoyed it in their childhood. Our case had been a lil different than the rest. Both of us have never had the patience to read but we always admired others who could. So when our daughter was born we tried our best to read out stories to her every night before bedtime. I have carried more books to the vacations than clothes I admit but it’s finally paying. My daughter is our only child, she complains of not having a sibling sometimes but never of boredom. She is a booknut and she takes pride in it.