Day 4: If you are a parent, or have advice for parents…what do you do (or think would work) to foster the love of reading in your kids?
I am a parent.
And I think I’ve done a good job in fostering the love of reading in my little mini-me.
My daughter is seven and she is currently reading at a 5th grade level, which is pretty good for a 2nd grader. But, reading level doesn’t matter much if the child doesn’t like to pick up a book. Granted, you can’t really increase your reading level if you don’t read – so I should conclude that those two things go hand in hand. The love of reading has enabled her to read at a higher level then other kids her age. I also believe that a lot of the things I did, starting at birth, the examples I set and the habits I nourished, have fostered this love of reading in her. But, still, sometimes it is a fight. She still is only seven and there are so many other things that are more interesting, like watching FROZEN for the 110th time, or chasing butterflies, or making a mess of the playroom, or playing on the iPad (biggest lure!). So, this seems like a relentless pursuit that I will have to push for her whole life, or until she becomes relatively obsessed like I am and I can take a step back and know, she’s just like me!
Seven Tips to Foster the Love of Reading in Your Children
Enough of the diatribe though, I’m sure everyone wants to know what I did. The first and major thing that you have to do at all times, at all ages:
1. Let them see you read. Let them see you LOVING books.
That is the main one and for people like us, the book bloggers, the lovers of books, the literature obsessed, this is easy. But, for others who have other hobbies and interest, then ONLY BOOKS, you should really take the time to have set reading times as a family. Talk about the book you are reading with your child, it doesn’t have to be anything over-the-top, if you are reading a horror novel, you don’t have to get into specifics. Just something like, “They have this character Stu and he had to ride all the way across the country to meet an old lady in Nebraska! Can you believe he traveled that far just to meet a little old lady? But, she was special, he dreamed about her and she said she could talk to God.”
2. Read to your child.
From the moment I knew I was pregnant, I began reading aloud. This is probably the time when I really got into Young Adult books, I wanted to only read appropriate titles (this is a ridiculous concept, considering the fetus probably only heard Mmmpf Mmmmpf mmmmpf) – but I can’t be sure, I don’t remember my time as a little fetus. But, do you get the point? I started very early, I read a lot – and I read to her all the time. My family is a big reading family, so at the baby shower I received all my own personal favorite story books, along with choice selections from my family members. My daughter had a substantial library before she was born and my husband and I made sure we read to her every night. We still try to do this to this day, even though she enjoys reading on her own now.
3. Do Not Make it Homework
Your child’s teacher says 20 minutes of reading a night. Do not classify it as homework, homework isn’t fun. Reading should be fun. If you are allowed “free” reading of any title, let your child pick the title – don’t try and force your titles on to them. Make it exciting. “How cool is that, you get to read for your assignment. Anything you want! I wish my teachers had been that nice.”
4. Do Not Categorize Reading with TV or Gaming
This is a weird one and I don’t know if it is effective. But, while I was pregnant, I read this book about promoting the genius in your child (can’t remember the name! Sorry – and I’ve since sent it to my brother in Japan). They said in the book that you shouldn’t reward your child with television, it will make them want it more if it is a reward. Same with video games. So, I turned it around, I reward her with reading time and tv, is just tv. We watch it if we don’t have anything better to do.
5. Make Library Visits Fun
I know my libraries, the Jefferson Parish Libraries are amazing, they have workshops, crafts and a ton of kids book. My daughter LOVES going to the library almost as much as she loves going to the zoo. Make it a special trip and fun to do.
6. Make Up Your Own Stories
I play this game with my nephews and my daughter called the Story game. We’ve been doing it since they were old enough to talk in sentences. I start with a line, “Once Upon a Time there was a girl name Petunia…” and then they have to finish the story, line by line, each taking a turn. It usually leads to Petunia being blessed with unnatural amounts of flatulence or squished by a falling piano. But, they love it.
7. Book Clubs
Finally, this is going to be my latest endeavor. I decided to start one with her grade, we haven’t picked a book yet. But, I figured that if we get all the kids in the class reading for fun, the same book and then discussing it at “play dates” it might help them really love to read and talk about the books – books that aren’t associated with the classroom and the teachers. I’ll tell you how it plays out…but if you do have suggestions for books, I would love to hear them. The kids are 2nd grade, but most of them are advanced readers at about a 3rd grade minimum level, but still with the maturity of 7 year olds. Which is another thing to tackle. It never ends!
Just having one child, I feel I focus a lot of energy just on her, I give props out to the Moms and Dads with more then one, or many more…you all need a big round of applause. It isn’t easy being a parent, or should I say, it isn’t easy being a good parent.
Thanks for doing this challenge with me! I can’t wait to hear your tips.