Reading has provided me with countless hours of enjoyment. And long before my children were able to sound out their first words, I knew that I wanted them to experience these same gifts. For this reason, it was important to me that I know how to raise kids who love to read.
Several years ago a friend of mine expressed an observation and posed a question.
“Your kids are always reading! How do you get them to read so much!?!”
Her inquiry left me puzzled. I’d never really thought about it before. My children have been surrounded by books for as long as I can remember.
Books have, quite frankly, been a natural extension of their physical bodies.
Like an extra limb or something.
And while I’m reluctant to take too much credit for my children’s love of reading, I am able to recognize how my husband and I have nurtured them in this area. We’ve definitely provided a strong foundation for what we hope will be a lifelong love of reading for both of them.
If you want to know how to raise kids who love to read, here are some tips to inspire you!
1. Be Clear About Your Goal
Why is it important to you that your children love to read?
If you’re not exactly sure how to answer this question, let me offer you an example…
My husband and I share a goal of raising kids who enjoy reading and who become confident readers.
This is important to us because confident readers can learn anything!
Books allow a person to experience anything they can possibly imagine! Travel, adventure, fantasy, various perspectives… anything!
Confidence in reading truly does open up endless possibilities for knowledge, self-awareness, and enjoyment.
What a gift!
Be sure and take a little time to think about this and get really clear about what YOUR goal is.
2. Have Books Around ALL THE TIME!
On bookshelves, the kitchen table, the car, beds, and nightstands…
When my kids were babies, we had tons of board books around. And sure, we read them but mostly, these poor books were slobbered over and used as teething toys.
Which was totally fine!
We simply wanted our children to be surrounded by books as much as possible.
As they grew, we transitioned to picture books, followed by early readers, then chapter books, and so on. It’s been an ever-evolving, exciting adventure.
Thinking about the future, when our children are adults, we hope they reflect back on their childhoods and remember always being surrounded by books.
Do your best to have books around all the time!
3. Model Reading by Being a Reader
If you consider yourself a natural reader, this shouldn’t be a problem. A hard-back book on your nightstand, a paperback stashed in the car, an e-book on your phone… the variety of ways to read abound!
But what about if you DON’T consider yourself a reader?
Well, I’m going to be so bold as to suggest that perhaps you haven’t found the right book yet.
Autobiographies, Science Fiction, Classics, Self-Help, Short Stories, Comic Books… the variety of genres is large and the possibilities are endless! And Audio Books DEFINITELY count!
As my uncle likes to say,
“Life is too short to read boring books!”
So, find an interesting-looking book and start reading!
Model reading by being a reader.
4. Read Aloud
Snuggle up on the couch and read aloud to your child when they’re little. Then continue on as they get older. Take turns choosing books and play around with different voices.
As your child grows and becomes a proficient reader, have them read aloud to you. If you’re in need of suggestions, I’ve got 10 wonderful recommendations!
So many precious family memories can happen when we
5. Audio Books Totally C
A friend of mine has a child who never reaches for a book to read, but always has an audiobook he’s listening to.
This totally counts!
Some kids prefer listening to books rather than reading them. Whether they’re auditory learners, enjoy being active rather than sitting still, or are emerging readers, audiobooks are a fantastic alternative to reading from the page.
So yep, audiobooks totally count!
6. Keep Things Low-P
The quickest way to kill your child’s love for something is to make it a high-stakes activity.
Ask me how I know…
I cringe when I think back to the first time I tried teaching my daughter to read. Armed with a well-respected teaching guide, I ditched joy and ease for the goal of getting my child to be a proficient reader.
She was just five years old, mind you!
Fortunately, I abandoned this flawed plan not too long after starting. Once it became clear that I was slowly killing my daughter’s love of books, I realized I needed to find a better way.
The lesson learned? If your child picks up on anxiety surrounding their reading proficiency, they are likely to develop an aversion to reading.
So do your best to check any expectations. Have your goal be to expose your child to lots of different genres, authors, and writing styles.
Are they immersed in a pile of picture books?
Leave them to it!
Do they ask you to read the same exact story night after night?
Bite your tongue and read it to them!
Are they obsessed with science fiction and won’t read anything else?
Let them pursue this passion!
The bottom line, keep things low-pressure when it comes to reading.
7. Create Cozy Spots to R
Make reading an enticing and enjoyable experience by creating cozy spots to read.
A reading nook in the living room, a comfy spot in the backyard, and a nightstand conveniently located right by your child’s bed.
These are all excellent ways to create cozy spots to read!
8. Regular Trips to the L
When my children were little, we went to the library on a weekly basis for storytime. As they grew, we continued going on a (nearly) weekly basis.
We spent time looking around at all of the picture books, asked the Librarians for suggestions, met up with friends, hit the park afterward, and took part in the annual summer reading program.
These days, we mostly place holds on desired items and stop off to pick up our items once they’re ready for us.
If you don’t have a library nearby, check and see what online services are available.
Plenty of e-books and music selections are often available immediately when you start researching what is offered.
Take regular trips to the library and enjoy the rewards!
9. Use Books to celebrate Special O
Whenever we travel, we get a few new books. For us, the only thing more exciting than an adventure somewhere is taking a book along with us on a new adventure!
Birthdays, graduations, and other milestones have often been celebrated with a book, (or books!) included.
I highly recommend that you use books to celebrate special occasions.
10. Show an Interest in What your children Are Reading
Ask questions about the plot of a story. Inquire about the characters and setting. Ask them if they’re interested in learning more about the author.
Regardless of what your child has chosen to read, show an interest!
As I expressed at the beginning of this post, I’m not sure how much credit I can actually take for my kids’ love of reading. But I’ve certainly created lots of opportunities to nurture their love and appreciation for books.
And as parents, that’s really all we can do. Create an environment that encourages and nurtures reading, then sit back and watch what our children do with the inspiration we’ve provided.
Be sure to check out these other related Homegrown Scholars blog posts:
So if you’re wanting to raise kids who love to read, give these tips a shot and let me know how they work for you!