This mama’s heart skipped a beat the other day and I’ll tell you why.
It was library day. Our kids normally love our trips to the library, so that was no surprise. On this particular day, we’d made our quick trip in, the kids picked out a pile of books and we hopped back in the car to head to our evening activities. And the kids couldn’t tear themselves away from their books! They eagerly shared their selections with one another and spent the next 30 minutes in the car poring over their new treasures.
Now, this wasn’t a magical day where all the stars aligned and suddenly my children loved reading. It was just one of those moments that I stopped and noticed. You know those moments. When you look at your kid and realize you don’t see the chubby cheeks of the baby years. When you suddenly notice your 12 year old is almost as tall as you. None of those things happen all at once. It’s more of a slow process. This was one of those. This hard fought, sometimes tear-filled journey has led to 3 kids who truly love reading. And my heart swelled.
I thought I’d share some tips that have made an impact on the readers in our home.
It’s worked with 3 out of the 4 and our youngest seems to be following right along.
Read to Your Kids
It’s never too early to start this and they’re never too old to stop it. We began this with our toddlers who were super squirmy and rarely let us finish a book. We made board books available to them to hold, open and close and chew on (we tried to prevent that as much as possible). In their preschool years, we read the same books over and over and over. Curious George’s ABC’s, Where the Wild Things Are and Goodnight Moon were among the favorites, along with our Sandra Boynton collection(affiliate link). We taught them to treasure their books. We made books special. I read aloud to my kids as part of our homeschool day. My husband still reads aloud with them at night before bed. This slowed down time, whether it’s 5 or 45 minutes, is such a precious, quiet, special time. Where we are ALL transported someplace else together for a time.
Read Real Books
I’m not anti-technology. I’m obviously typing this on a computer. We depend a ton on the internet for the things we do. I have a pad with apps that my kids sometimes use. But we limit screen time a ton. And honestly, my kids don’t even seem to mind. Sure, they’d love to each have tablets of their own or computer time and free reign, but they’re kids. I expect that. Reading on a pad is still reading, but it’s not the same experience as thumbing through the pages of a book. Reading on tablets should supplement book reading, not replace it.
You make your kids eat fruits and veggies because it’s good for them, right? Then make them spend time reading. You’ll only have to do it for a while. Then it will stop being a battle and just become something normal. Even if your kid has been sitting in a classroom at school all day, encourage them to read some every day.
Let Them Choose
My kids often get reading assignments from me. But I also allow them to choose some books they want to read. Any type of book. One of my kids wants fact books. Or joke books. Another likes comic books. I allow them to read what they want (as long as it’s age appropriate) in addition to the books I choose. It makes required reading time a lot less of a battle. It also allows them to learn about things they find interesting, rather than just the things they’re forced to learn.
Let Them See You Reading Books
This is where I fail most often. Because of the nature of my day, most of my reading occurs after kids are in bed. That’s the only time I have where my brain is available enough to process. My husband picks up the slack here. He’s an avid reader and always has books lying around. It’s important to “normalize” reading and let them know that it’s just a part of everyday life. They do see books on my nightstand, though. And sometimes they see the bookmark move.
Get Them a Library Card
We have the luxury of living in a small town. I call it a luxury because our librarians know us. They make my kids feel so special every time they walk through the doors. Our library requires that you be 5 before you can get your own card. Each time a kid has reached 5, we’ve made getting a libaray card a special occasion. They love seeing their names on the card and they treasure the newfound ability to check out books.
I realize that some of this may sound old fashioned. And that’s fine. I firmly believe that books matter. I don’t read nearly enough. Thankfully my kids have developed a love for it and in the process, they’ve inspired me to do more. We can all learn from each other.
Do you have any tips you’ve tried and would like to share? Comment below!