Our household is a house of readers. We have more books than I care to count, and both of the kids have many, many bookshelves packed full of books. I love to read and I love to see them enjoying their books. It’s important to me that they do so, I am happy to be raising readers.
If your child reads regularly and for pleasure, then they are at an advantage educationally and socially. There is tonnes of research pointing to this, so I won’t bang on about it, it just is what it is. So if you can raise a reader, a genuinely engaged not forced reader, then you are doing them a huge favour. You are also gifting them a lifetime hobby that’s easy and cheap to do! As we all read, I have been reflecting on what it is that has helped to engage the kids, which is how I have come up with these 5 steps to raising a reader….
We all know that kids like to mimic their parents, so this is an obvious one. The kids know that I read, they see my bookshelves they see me with book in hand. They see my happiness when I’m in a bookshop, they see me receiving new books for my birthday. They see that books are treats, they have seen this their entire lives. I read, so it’s perfectly natural to them to do so, too.
Don’t make it homework.
I know that a reading book is often sent home as homework. Approach this as you will, every school and child is different. Get that book read and ticked off, as that book is not the reading for pleasure book. That book is also not the only book being read in the home that week. Reading is then a treat, not homework. Reading is a pastime, a normal part of everyday life, it is not school work. If it’s relegated to that area and that area only, it’ll be seen as a chore and what child wants to do those? There should be an ongoing book at home, that your child in enjoying reading to themselves. It has nothing to do with a school book.
Find that book.
There will be a book, a series, an author, that gets your child excited about reading if they’re reluctant. There will always be a book that they just love. The challenge can sometimes be in finding it! But persevere as it is out there and it can unlock reluctant readers. It doesn’t matter whether it’s fiction, non-fiction, comic books, it’s reading and if you have a child who isn’t keen on reading, this can be that starting point for them. It might not be the book that they enjoy hearing you read, it could be completely different. It might not be the same book that everyone else is reading, that might not do it for your child. Don’t give up if they reject the popular reads, just keep looking. Trips to the library can be handy for this or second hand book shops. Try Love Reading 4 Kids for recommendations, and you might find my book series’ for 6-10 year olds useful.
Read to them.
Keep on reading to them daily. From 6 weeks old through to 12 years old, keep on reading. Don’t delay because they’re too young to understand. Don’t stop because they can read themselves. Children learn from the intonation of your voice from a young age and they will continue to benefit from being read aloud to throughout primary school. Aside from the actual benefits of reading, bedtime story time is a special time, a time to snuggle up together and disappear into a new world.
Make it a habit.
Read at regular times. The obvious time is at bedtime. A bedtime story with you and then some of their own reading time before lights out. Make it a normal routine, make it something that they see everyone doing in the household, make it something to look forward to. My kids are always read to at bedtime, and then read to themselves for a while. I then always know when they’re reading a book that’s gripped them when they bring their book down to breakfast the next day and keep on reading!
I do believe that you would need to do all five of these to get there, albeit some of them to greater or lesser degrees. Every child is different, I know that. My two are like chalk and cheese and yet they both enjoy reading. My girl’s at that stage where she’s starting to challenge herself by reading a greater range of genres. My boy is getting the reading bug, so I am simply encouraging him by finding him more books similar to the ones that he enjoys, to keep him happy and devouring those books. Anything by Dav Pilkey is doing it at the moment! We will continue to cover off the 5 steps above consistently with them, so that new books continue to be seen as treats, reading time a perk in their day. It always has been like that for me, it’s wonderful to see that it is for them.
What steps and tips would you add to help to raise a reader?