In the technology age, it is harder and harder to find kids who love reading. I recently had a conversation with an elementary age girl about being bored. I suggested she get a book to read and she responded with “I’m not that into books.” I was such an avid reader as a kid I can’t imagine growing up not being into books. I tried to explain to her that she just needed to find a book that really interested her, but her ears were closed to the notion. Before Roo was born, I hoped she would be into reading as much as her father and I are. She’s nearly three, and even though she is not a “reader” yet she is very into books. Here are some tips for getting your kids excited about reading!
1.) Start Early
We knew reading would be a part of our routine before Roo was even born. Every nap and bedtime requires at least one book, a maximum of three. I would read to her while she laid in her crib, sometimes continuing long after she had drifted off. There is rarely a night that doesn’t involve some form of storytelling. Roo has come to expect it and misses it when it’s gone.
2.) Don’t Give Up
Once Roo starting walking, nothing could stop her! She was constantly moving and bouncing from one activity to another. We would sit down for a story and not make it past the second page. Finally, I was almost ready to give up, when I read somewhere that children absorb information even if they are not actively listening. So I would give her something quiet to do, like some stuffies to play with or her nightly bottle to drink. While she was content, I’d read the story. Keeping that routine and not giving up was very important because she soon learned that this was a set part of our routine. Now she demands a story before bed.
3.) Library Story Time
Check into your local library for story time. Chances are they have an age-specific activity involving books, songs, and sometimes something crafty. Even if your child won’t sit still the first few times, keep going! Keep this as a routine and they will learn what is expected. In addition to having someone else read aloud to your child, you can also take the opportunity afterward to choose books to bring home. Roo has so many books, we could probably start our own library! But nothing beats a brand new story that you picked out all on your own. Letting them choose at least one gives them an opportunity to explore their independence. It will also help to plant the seed of an idea that books are something special.
4.) Choose Subjects They Enjoy
So, when I was reading to my infant, I could choose old stories from my childhood I loved. Nostalgia would cover the words like a fluffy blanket and I could picture my baby growing into a miniature version of myself as a kid. Then she turned into a KID with OPINIONS and nevermind that I loved this book when I was her age, she hates Winnie the Pooh! Now I read My Little Pony books because that is one of her favorite shows. Or I read nonfiction horse books because she is horse crazy. Or I read (with my eyes closed because it’s the 100th time I’ve read the dang thing) The Poky Little Puppy because it’s her favorite. When you go to the library to choose a book, find a favorite character from a show they watch. It will catch their attention way more than a chubby little bear.
5.) Lead By Example
This is probably the hardest one for most of us. Especially parents of younger children, because they take up so much of our focus and attention we couldn’t dare to dream of digging into a good book without distraction. However, let your kids see you reading as much as possible.
If When they come demanding your attention, make it a point to finish the sentence or paragraph first. This shows them that what you’re doing is important. I can remember my parents reading every night before bed and finding my own book to read while they did because I wasn’t getting any attention from them anyway. As parents of the technology age, it’s much more rare to see parents reading rather than scrolling through their phones or tablets or watching tv.
To raise readers, we need to be readers!
6.) Be Sensitive to Learning Disabilities
My husband has dyslexia. For most kids who struggle with this or some other disorder that makes reading difficult, this means they get frustrated with reading. He was able to learn a way of skim reading that he could get the general idea of a paragraph without focusing too much on each individual word. Reading aloud still trips him up and he gets embarrassed when mispronouncing or misidentifying a word. But he still loved to read, and enjoys listening to a good audiobook on his work commute. If you suspect a learning disability could be to blame for your child’s lack of interest in books, talk to their school or doctor about options.
7.) Get Crafty!
One of our crafts this week was popsicle stick bookmarks. They were so much fun to make, and Roo wanted to use one in her book right away.
I laid out the supplies and let her go for it, I joined in too because I couldn’t resist.
You can guide your little ones to a certain shape or creature for their bookmark, but it was fun to see what she could create on her own. One she insisted was a cat and asked for me to make him a face.
From there I took the idea to make a bear and a bookworm.
She laid a heart-shaped sticker upside down, instead of correcting it, I had her add feathers to make it an arrow. Beginner readers can use these to point at words as they’re sounding it out.
What I love about this craft is they make great gifts for grandparents and teachers, and they look cute no matter what craziness the little one throws on it! Most importantly, Roo and I had fun making them and I think you will too.
Want more ideas for creating a reading culture at home? Check out this post from Sanya at Raising Independent Kids!