Does anyone else get excited over ALL the books when they walk into a library? Sometimes I actually get a little sad when I think about the awesome books that I know are hidden on the shelf that I might never discover! Maybe that’s a little weird, but I love to read. I had a favorite series as a kid…Goosebumps anyone? When high school and college came around I got kind of bored with all the required reading that I rarely made time to find ones to enjoy, but I’m happy to say that since graduation I have become an avid reader once more. I think we’ve all seen the studies about the importance of a child’s growth and education is largely dependent upon their reading ability. I knew I wanted to instill important reading habits in my daughter and these are some ways I have found to be helpful!
Start early. We started reading to our daughter when she was an infant. It seemed kind of silly at the time but there’s lots you can do when reading to babies. Point to pictures and words when you read about them. They will learn to read from left to right, letters and sounds. Teach them how to turn pages. Ask them questions like: Where is the boat? Do you see anything blue on this page? All these things help their little brains grow and develop. Even if your child is older it’s never too late to start reading together!
Make it a routine. Bedtime is an easy time to make a routine. You usually already have bath, teeth brushing, and pajama time, so reading books together is a good one to add in there! It helps their minds calm down before they sleep and it gives you both something to look forward to each night. If bed time doesn’t work, pick a time that’s convenient for you! We often like to read a Bible story at breakfast together. Maybe the only time your child is even remotely still is on the potty or in the bath tub, those are great places to read together too!
Read together as a family. Most families these days have pretty busy schedules. Work, school, sports, church, friends, holidays, volunteering, etc. can pull us in all sorts of directions, but it’s nice to find time to all come together for an activity like reading each day. Much like the dinner-table-time, reading-time can promote conversation, sharing ideas, and learning more about each other.
Regularly visit your local library. It is nice to own your own favorites, but it’s also exciting to explore the variety of books out there. Often when my daughter has a question that I don’t know the answer to (ex: Are there green ladybugs?) I’ll say, “I don’t know, but let’s find a book about ladybugs at the library and find out.” Yes we could Google the question, but I want to encourage her to use resource materials in the library. We’ve found many new series we love at the library and now she can go right to their location on the shelves. Show your children the different areas of the library and explain things like fiction and non-fiction. If you have a question don’t be afraid to ask a librarian and teach your children how to ask them for help too!
Let them choose. I usually pick out a few books for my daughter at the library, but I also let her peruse the aisles to choose some. At bedtime we let her choose which books she wants to read. All kids will go through a phase where they want to read the same book over and OVER and OVERRR again. You may feel the urge to hide the book or throw it away, but repetition is one way that children learn best! So as annoying as it may be….try to read it again through gritted teeth. Your frown will turn upside down the day you hear them reading it to themselves or their stuffed animals or their baby brother!
Keep a list. I often see book recommendations online through Pinterest or in magazines. I try to book mark them somehow so I can have a running list of items to check out when we go to the library. Ask your friends or your child’s friends what they are reading and get ideas from them. Libraries also usually have posters of award winning books or best sellers.
Have a variety of books easily accessible. Kids won’t read on their own if there are no books within reach! You might have a bookshelf or basket of books in their room. We liked to display ours on these Ikea shelves (I’ve also seen this done with gutters found at any hardware store). If you keep the books on a rotation like this you’ll keep your kids interested in a different variety. And once again you don’t have to own any books to raise a good reader. You can borrow them from the library to put on display or in baskets.
Do you make reading a routine with your child? Do you have recommendations on ways to encourage reading in your family? Please share!