If you come over on an afternoon after my kids get home from school, it may be eerily quiet! It may be because they love Legos, but you will be sure to find at least one curled up on a couch with a book. Seeing the four of them sitting quietly with a book is a little eerie and the rebel in me sometimes wants to yell, “Ok, enough.” “Dance party!” Mostly, I don’t do that.
Tips for Raising a Reader
Read to Your Kids -Every Day!
It sounds obvious, but in practice it can be hard! Between work and sports and dinner, when bedtime is running behind it is tempting to make story time the first to go. Resist! When my kids were babies I heard that reading 5 books a day to your child would help them to be an excellent reader. Five books a day is easier before your child goes to school all day, but try to keep it to at least two stories. Older children appreciate a picture book at bedtime, even if they act like they don’t. Our perfect formula is a picture book + a chapter from a chapter book = two stories. A longer chapter from a chapter book counts as two stories, too. Need some book ideas?
If you’ve never heard of this, Google it, call the number and then cover your ears! My kids love this – it’s noisy and filled with raucous sounds, but often involves a silly re-telling of a classic tale. On evenings when I am just way too tired to read a story, I literally phone it in.
“He who owns books and loves them is wise.”
– Petunia the duck, from Petunia by Roger Duvoisin
Make the Library a Fun Destination
On my calendar I have added library time as a once a week appointment. I consider it the same as a sports practice – we don’t miss it unless we absolutely can’t make it. With four kids, not all of them make it to the library every week, but everyone makes it at least once a month. As soon as one of my kids learns how to write their first and last name well enough to do it without help, we make a big deal of it and go to the library to get a library card. During the summer, we attend as many of the Summer Reading Program fun events as we can. If kids can associate the library with fun beyond books, they are more likely to want to go there.
Lead by Example
Our kids see everything! I don’t have a ton of time to read for fun, but your kids will notice when you bring a book around with you. When you prioritize reading, even if it’s not all the time, it will validate their love of reading. Leaving a stack of library books on the passenger seat of the car or on the kitchen table gives kids a subtle cue that books are a part of every day life.
Be Part of the Slow Reading Movement
Ok – so I made that up. There is no “slow reading movement”(that I know of). My point is, learning to read is not a race. The age that a kid learns to read kind of seems to have nothing to do with loving books and reading. None of my children have learned to read at the same age or even at the same speed. I had a kindergartener who read at a 3rd grade level by mid-year, I had a kindergartener who couldn’t read at the end of the year and read at a 4th grade level by the end of 1st grade, and I currently have a kindergartener who can barely read at all. We practice reading every day, but I put a greater focus on reading to my kids.
Want more tips on raising a reader? You can get all that and more tips on how to spark your child’s love of learning.