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I learned to read long before I started kindergarten. Since then, I have had my nose buried in one book or another. Actually, I usually have more than one book going at a time. I have one on the table to read while I eat lunch. I have one on my nightstand to read at bedtime, and I have one in the car to read while I wait at my kids’ activities.
When I found out I was pregnant with my first child, I started buying baby books. I created a book basket that would sit next to the rocking chair. I would read to my tummy every night, and of course, I started reading to my baby as soon as he was born. I have been reading to kids for the past 24+ years.
7 Ways to Foster a Love of Reading
One thing that was important to me was to raise kids who loved reading, as well. I know that nothing I do will guarantee that they’ll love reading. But, I knew that there were some things that I could do to nudge them in that direction.
And, it worked. My oldest was an avid reader until he started high school, and he later picked up books on his own again. My middle one only liked reading as long as he was sitting beside me. He really didn’t choose to read for fun for many years. However, now as a college student, he has rediscovered the joy of reading. He often has his nose buried in a political book of some sort. My youngest is just like me. She has books strewn all over the house, and she always has her nose buried in a book!
So, how can you foster a love of reading in your own kids?
Surround them with books. Create book baskets. Fill them with books about things they love – trucks, fairies, animals, etc. They’ll be more interested in books if they are about things they are already interested in.
Read-aloud to them often. When my daughter was younger, I read to her whenever she brought me a book. I looked forward to snuggling at bedtime with a favorite book or two (or more). Today, as she is entering high school, she still enjoys our read-aloud time during the school day. She prefers to read her own books at bedtime these days.
Visit the library frequently. As soon as my children were old enough to sign their names on a library card, I let them get one. They are allowed to check out books equivalent to their ages – 5 books for the 5 year old, 7 books for the 7 year old, etc. That makes it easy to keep up with how many books we need to return each week.
Read around them. Let them see you read. My kids see my books strewn all around the house. They see my get engrossed in a great novel. They see me reading magazines and the newspaper, as well. Oftentimes, they’ll grab a book and curl up next to me on the couch.
Read for a purpose. One way I encouraged my kids to read was to have them read lists to me. They would read their chore charts to see what needed to be done each day. They would read my grocery list to me as we traveled through the grocery store. They would read recipes to me while I cooked dinner. Reading for a purpose helps them see why reading is an important skill.
Listen to audiobooks. One way to spark a child’s interest in reading is to listen to audiobooks. When my kids were younger, we would listen to audiobooks as we followed along with the book so they could hear the words they were reading.
Now, I like to introduce them to great books series by listening to the first book of the series in the car. Oftentimes, they will then check out the sequels on our next visit to the library.
Share your favorites. I have thoroughly enjoyed introducing my kids to some of my favorite books from my own childhood. Little House on the Prairie. Island of the Blue Dolphins. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Dr. Seuss. Anne of Green Gables. I’ve shared these – and many more – books with my kids, and I hope to one day share them with grandkids.