How to Get My Kids to Love Reading
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At my daughter’s fourth birthday party, she opened one present to find it filled with books. Just books. She grinned and stopped opening presents to insist I read the first book, then the second, the third. She was oblivious to the friends and family surrounding her or the ice cream cake melting faster than Olaf on a sunny day.
To say we are a family who loves to read would be like saying we need water and food to survive.
Now, my kids are 7 and 4, so they still have natural excitement to read, but consider the following:
Among fourth-graders, only 54 percent read something for pleasure every day.
Among eight-graders, only 30 percent read for pleasure daily.
By twelfth grade, only 19 percent read anything for pleasure daily.Jim Trelease, The Read Aloud Handbook
Why is this a problem?
Seventy to 82 percent of prison inmates are school dropouts.
Sixty percent of inmates are illiterate to semiliterate.
The more education, the greater likelihood of employment and less likelihood of imprisonment.Jim Trelease, The Read Aloud Handbook
Food for thought:
If their love for reading had been stimulated when they were young, then perhaps we would be in a different world….
I have loved reading since I was a kid.
- I placed second place in my first grade reading contest. (should have been first. ;))
- After a fight with my sister, I would often be sent to my parents’ room. My parents’ room had all the books, where after I had pouted and cried a flood of justified tears, I would then engross myself in all the books.
- I even once recorded myself reading, “Are You My Mother?”
When I see my daughter and son’s love of books, it reignites my passion and takes me down memory lane.
I remember when I would spend hours browsing a book store, lose myself in a story clueless to the events or people around me, and a scavenger hunt for my gift of books at Christmas time.
So suffice it to say, I am a huge fan of reading, all the time.
Since 2006, the OECD has interviewed the parents of five thousand students who were part of the test-taking corps, asking them if they ever read to their children when they were in first grade and how often the reading took place. The responses, when compared with those children’s reading scores on the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) exam, showed a powerful correlation: The more they were read to, the higher the scores at age fifteen, sometimes an advantage of as much as a half year’s schooling. And the results were true regardless of family income.Jim Trelease, The Read- Aloud Handbook
Now you might be saying, at this point, why is this post here?
I thought this website was on encouragement and inspiration to be a better, stronger woman, a better version of who you already are.
But that IS the point.
I love books for many reasons, but one of the things I love most is exploring new dynamic worlds of imaginations and dreams.
Reading opens up opportunities to be the heroine, to laugh like you have a bowl full of jelly, and even at times to be a villain. (We all have a dark side. It’s what you do with it that counts.)
Once you open a book beauty, strength, and inspiration is yours to grab.
You can do any of the following and more:
- Battle against Lord Voldemort to overcome evil
- Sympathize with Alexander on your very worst, horrible, no good, very bad day.
- Travel to unimaginable places and make friends with James and the Giant Peach and the cast of misfit insects.
A good story is a window to a person’s soul.
And I read all the stories, from fantasy to historical fiction (my personal favorite), to murder mystery, to nonfiction.
Reading provides opportunities for discussion of difficult things: Greed, grief, even sexual abuse (A conversation, I believe, all parents need to have with their children.)
**The best book I have found on sexual abuse for young children: The Swimsuit Lesson
Adults need these lessons too.
I still learn from adult and children’s books each and every day.
Just some of the lessons I’ve learned**:
- To enjoy life while making silly animal noises with Farmer Dougal’s friends
- Believe in myself while letting go of my What If Monster’s
- There is almost always another side to the story with The Tale of Two Beasts
**If you choose to click on the links above, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. As a book lover and Independent Usborne Books & More Consultant, I proudly recommend the above books as they are some of my personal favorites.
Children’s books have a magical way of saying just the right thing in just the right way at just the right time.
But how do you get your kids to love reading?
Well, while I’m not a literacy expert (at least in the professional sense), I hope you will allow me to share some of the lessons I have learned along my personal pathway to a love of reading.
Because indeed, reading will make you a better version of yourself, even if just for a moment.
After all, it’s all those little moments added up over time that make you who you are.
Let’s make each moment count. We can make a difference. One child at a time. One book at a time. One page at a time.
Now without further ado, here are the tips you’ve been waiting for to get those kids to love reading!
1. Just Keep Reading.
Read all the time, from the time they are infants. I began reading from the day I brought my kids home from the hospital. My son was read to from the first day of conception.
2. Don’t rush the reading process.
Kids learn to read by themselves at different ages. Some at age four, some don’t feel confident until age seven or later. I thought my daughter would be an early reader, but she just wasn’t ready. She has never been behind, she just enjoys reading with me as opposed to reading by herself.
Finnish children–who are introduced to formal reading instruction at age seven, two years later than American children–still managed to surpass them (American children) by age nine.Jim Trelease, The Read-Aloud Handbook
3. Ask questions.
Ask what their favorite part of the story was or why a character is feeling x, y, or z, OR to name one thing they can remember from the story.
I am not real great at this one, and while it may not improve their love of reading per se, it will help their comprehension, which will increase their confidence, which in turn will increase
This simple task is often overlooked.
4. Take them to the library.
Most libraries these days have wonderful programs for children of all ages.
For example, our community library has programs like story hour for preschoolers, a kids club for school age kids, and even gaming programs for teens and pre-teens.
In addition, let your children choose the books. While, I do have the final say, I limit my no’s to a small number of books I consider inappropriate.
But by letting them choose, you do give them the control and the excitement and, as a bonus, you get to see what they are interested in.
5. Have books all around you.
In baskets, shelves, facing out, facing in, in the bathroom, even in the car. You just might find your car ride a silent one. (I’m not kidding! This has happened to me!)
6. Let go of control.
There are times when I really don’t want to read a certain book, not because it’s a bad topic, but because I’ve read it a million times or the book ends with me snoring.
And as much as I want to
But alas we must parent the kids we have. (Another post for another day?)
7. Consider paying them.
I like this option for older or struggling readers. Recently, I watched a video on parenting and technology. The speaker (which for the life of me I can’t remember his name!) mentioned that he started paying his kids for every book they read!
8. Make it a habit.
Have a set time to read to your kids. I have read during meals, while waiting on the bus, or waiting at the doctor’s office.
The most common time for our family is before bedtime and naptimes.
You could even consider designating a day like Saturday for reading in your pj’s. 🙂 Sounds pretty fun, right? Add in a makeshift fort, and you just may win parent of the year!
9. Let them see you reading real books.
If you are reading on your electronic device, then tell them you are reading. Though I still say read real books in front of them as well. Kids mimic what they see and if they see your love for reading, then they just may imitate you.
10. Start or join a book club.
This idea, I could go crazy with. After scouring the internet for some ideas, I have come to the conclusion that age eight may be the best for starting a book club. Although I am ready to jump in now, (my daughter is 7) you will have more success of discussing the book if the kids can read and understand the book.
The aim is for kids to love reading, not frustration.
That being said, if you have several friends who you know have kids who already love to read, then don’t let age stop you. Just be mindful of others in your group.
11. Finally, Don’t give up.
I believe the more you read, the more we can change this world: One book, one child, one human at a time.
I love sharing lessons from the books I’ve read. I hope I can help you ignite a fire for books. And I hope you too have a party where you kid stops mid present to read a book. I promise it will make your heart melt like Olaf himself on that sunny day.
**The quotes and tips above were inspired from Jim Trelease’s Read-aloud Handbook, 7th edition. He has many more great tips as well as a treasury of recommended books and ages
What about you? Do you have any tips to add to my list?
On my website, I often write posts inspired from Children’s books. (and sometimes adult books). The following links share some lessons I’ve shared from our personal library:
I also write posts inspired from women and personal stories, with a strong emphasis on spiritual lessons. Be sure to subscribe here so you don’t miss anything!