My mom has always been a reader. She has had an enormous library of books for as long as I can remember, and she never fails to have a recommendation for a new book for me to read. While I was staying with her this summer, we were talking about how much she loves having access to so many ebooks now. My brother in law asked her recently how many of the books on her eReader were unread, and her response was….”only the book I’m just starting.” Once she starts a book, she finishes it, and if she buys it or borrows it, she reads it.
I can’t say the same for my library. Like a child whose eyes are bigger than her appetite, I tend to want lots of books but can’t find the time to finish them all. However, my lack of time is not a reflection of how much I love reading. I would constantly be reading a book if I could.
I don’t remember a time when I didn’t love to read. I figured (before I had kids who could read independently) that all kids loved to read. Scratch that. I figured that all people loved to read, and there were simply people who found time to do it and people who did not.
I was shocked when I discovered that a love of reading is not something children are born with. I was shocked when I had to force my kids to read for the 15 minutes required for their homework. Frankly, I was shocked at the idea that I would have to “teach” my kids to love reading.
As I became a more seasoned parent, I began noticing a few trends with my kids and books, and I discovered a few tricks and tips to help kids discover a love for reading.
How to Get Kids Excited About Reading
- Let them see you reading. Model to your kids that reading is pleasurable, relaxing, entertaining….show them it’s something you want to do.
- Make reading entertainment and never label it as a chore or a punishment.
- Keep plenty of books on hand. Whether you stock your shelves with borrowed books from the library, buy new books at the bookstore downtown, or pick up second-hand books at the Used Bookstore, keep fun, age-appropriate books available to everyone in the family.
- Ask for recommendations. Not only can you ask your friends’ opinions on their favorite books, but you can ask at the library for recommendations (I always recommend that kids tell the librarian what some of their favorite books are. She can then make recommendations for similar style and reading levels.
- Try different formats. Some people swear by eReaders because of the convenience and size. Others are traditionalists and want to touch and handle a paper book while reading.
- Make a regular library “date.” Make going to the library a regular thing…and get them their own library card (my kids love that!).
- Start a family book club. Everyone reads the same book and then gathers around to discuss what happened. Kids love sharing details they remember from the books they’ve read.
- Give books as gifts to your kids, and encourage them to give books to their friends.
- Keep a reading log, including the books you’ve read and the time you’ve spent reading. When a child fills up their reading chart, it’s ok to plan a fun reward/incentive. Don’t be afraid to go back to old favorites.
- And last but not least….read aloud together. That’s how my mom started with me, and that’s how I started with my own kids.
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