While Mr. Tilney is often the man behind the camera (we seriously need more pictures of him), I am the woman behind the books. Despite my efforts to read aloud to our children from the moment they came home from the hospital, we have only one real picture of me doing so. One?! I was shocked. Then I looked again, and that’s when I saw it. What really matters. Happily, while I am mostly absent, we do have oodles of evidence of something else: my kids love books.
Baby Jack “reading” a favourite.
Jared will buy the newest books in a series with his own money because he simply cannot wait to read them. Seth spent so many hours as a baby staring at books that he taught himself to read. Jack will read his favourites to his little brother. Bruce likes to copy out the words in stories he loves. While educators lament that more and more kids, especially boys, are reading less mine are passionate bookworms.
How did this happen? All because we read, and read together.
We are not the exception. Anyone, including you can do it. Want your kids to read more? The benefits, I might add, aren’t exclusively for kids! There’s no magical solution, but it is easy. Here’s what I’ve learned through years of trial and error.
How to Raise a Reader
1. Read Yourself
I never realized how often I called Jared “lovey” as a toddler until his little buddy started calling him that too. Kids imitate what they see, so if you make time to read they will too. It’s not enough for us parents and educators to rail at kids to read more. They need to see us do it. While Bruce has the bad habit of playing with my cell, he did capture this moment (right) that says it all. That’s me, just rolled out of bed, with Jared.
2. Go to the Library
Your local library is a treasure trove of gems just waiting to be read. It’s an all you can read buffet! Plus, the price of a library card is amazing. Unlimited access for a few bucks? Score! Sometimes it’s free. Go to the library regularly- once a week is our ideal-and bring your kids.
Okay, okay, I’ve been talking a lot about this lately; be it why we do storytime at all, or the knitty-gritty found here and here. It bears repeating though because storytime is crucial for raising a reader. An added benefit is calming everyone down- whether it’s bedtime or not- but hey! No matter what your motivation, it’s a sure win.
Build books into to the daily fabric of your life and into the lives of your children. My friend Charlotte takes a book with her everywhere she goes. Trillian reads to her kids during snacktime. We have individual storytime before bed. There’s lots of ways to do it, but consistency is what matters here.
5. Keep it Fun
Books range from the inspired to the insipid. Life is too busy to waste time reading the humdrum. When it comes to reading aloud, I choose something that holds up to repetition: in one sitting. Reading is supposed to be enjoyable. If a book doesn’t make you anxious for more of it, why bother? I think this author’s performance (his book is a huge hit at our house) perfectly captures what reading is meant to be,.
Just remember: raising a reader is not a product, it’s a process, and an ongoing one at that. Whether you’re one, or one hundred, reading should be a grand adventure!
Until Monday, keep the reading fun alive for you and yours.