I love reading. I read everywhere and at anytime. Thankfully, I married a fellow bookaholic, so my wife doesn't mind my stacks of books in every corner and stair of the house. We admit, we are on a quest to make two more bookaholics in our daughters. Here are a few ways you can make your child think reading is awesome...because it is.
1. Be The Example.
Something magical happens when your child sees you reading. She will think reading is important and fun; not because you say, "You know, reading is important and fun!" Don't do that. Just be about the business of reading in your house; and say nothing. Your son or daughter will notice; believe me.
The important thing here is to model for your child the importantance of reading. We say on this blog all the time; it's more about what you do, and less about what you say.
2. Read Aloud With Your Child.
Reading aloud may just be weird if you have older kids, but if you have young kids, be sure to read aloud to them as much as you can.
Reading together gives you and your child a connection unlike anything else. Humor me for a second: My oldest daughter was a snuggly baby when I was in seminary. I will never forget reading aloud with Bella and a systematic theology text cradled equally in my arms (books can be large and expensive—like babies!).
My point here is this, even though she will never remember my reading to her at that age, there was a bond in those moments that cannot be explained or broken. I have in mind the same moments with my younger daughter as a baby and listening to music. But that's for another post on the importance of music!
With a young child, reading will open opportunities for conversation too. Asking questions like, “Why do you think he did that?” or “what type of dog is your favorite?” can create great conversation between you and your child.
For your older child, read the same book as your pre-teen, teen or college student and find ways to talk about the book together.
3. Make Books Accessible.
No brainer? Not really. Think about this: Does your child have books in his room? If so, are there books on the low self where he can reach them?
Simply having books around the house with all kinds of topics will inspire your child to be curious about a topic he wouldn't have otherwise considered. Be sure you have several topics of possible interest around the house, from space and flight to geology and geography.
In general, the more pictures the better. Remeber for younger kids, you're developing curiosity for reading, the books need not be full of words!
4. Let Your Child Pick The Book.
Ask your child what her favorite topic is; after discussing it, spend time together shopping for the best book on that topic in a store or online. If you don't have extra money to spend, visiting your local library can be awesome if you take the time to relax and enjoy it.
I tend to "use the google machine" for when my daughter asks, "Daddy, how many astronauts are in space right now?!" Yes, there's a website for that! The point here is to "make a moment" out of it by spending time together. This doesn't have to cost you anything—except your time and attention.
5. Make Reading a Routine.
Depending on your schedule, the best time to read may be morning, evening or before bed. It doesn't matter the time, but make it a routine to spend a few minutes reading. After dinner or before bed tends to help calm my girls down.
6. Connect Books to Life.
Find a book that talks about something your child is studying in school. For instance, recently for President's Day, my 7 year old was learning about Abraham Lincoln. Guess which president we found stuff about in books and online? Yes, Lincoln, baby!
We are blessed in the DC area to have air and space museums. In fact, this weekend we have a trip planned to visit one. You can rest-assured there shall be reading of all things airplanes and space in the coming days at our house. I promise, the book will come alive to your child if they can somehow interact with the content on some level.
What are you and your child reading this month?
- International Reading Association: for a list of books by age
- Book Wink: for a list of books by subject, age and/or grade level.
- Great Books for Boys
- Great Books for Girls
- Reading Rockets: for tips and resources related to reading
- Read Write Think: parent resources related to reading by grade level.