Raising a Reader: Fostering a Love of Reading

I love to read. Love, love, love. I'm not sure what went on in my early years, but my mama definitely did something right. When I was in first (maybe second) grade we moved to a house that was a skip and a hop from the library. Like really, I had to walk past one house and I could SEE the library. I have a lot of happy childhood memories at that library. At some point, I was allowed to walk there by myself which was very convenient for my voracious literary appetite. I'd walk back with a stack of books and make myself comfortable on the front porch swing.

It's really important to me that my child also love to read. Even if he only wants to read about the stock market and body building like his dad, I want him to want to read. I used to joke that I wasn't sure if my husband even knew how to read because I've never seen him pick up a book, but I guess novels aren't for everyone. Logging reading hours is good for your brain no matter the subject matter. (Well, with a few exceptions to that! LOL)
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So, how do we get there?
  1. Read to him every day from the beginning. Maybe not those first few weeks when you resemble a Walking Dead extra, but after that, you should definitely read to them. High contrast board books are great for newborns, or you could always just read aloud from whatever you're working on.
    Be sure to offer to read instead of just waiting for them to ask you. I don't interrupt him when he's reading solo, but if he wants to show me his book I always offer. A friend of mine set a goal of ten books a day for her infant. She set out a stack and made sure to get through the stack by bedtime.
  2. Show him that we (his parents) love reading. I love to read, so having a book (or a stack of books) nearby isn't unusual for me. If I'm going to sit and read while he's awake, I try to sit near him so he can see me. Sometimes we grab a stack and he "reads" next to me.

    I'm not a big e-reader, but I know a lot of parents are. A friend of mine was concerned that her daughter thought she was just on her phone, so she started voicing to her daughter that "I'm going to read a book on my phone/tablet now." I thought this was brilliant. I've always listened to audio books, and now that I'm a mother it's the easiest way to read. (Thank goodness for Audible!!) I generally listen when I'm driving or cleaning, and I always take a moment to tell Everett that I'm turning an audio book on and if he needs me to say, "Mom, I need to talk to you." This not only shows him that I enjoy books but also keeps him from interrupting and talking over my book like my husband still does. LOL
  3. Visit the library, and make it special. I already mentioned my early memories of the library. It's a very happy place for me. Years ago, I took my nephew to get his first library card and we made a big deal of it. We took a picture, he filled in as much of his info as he could, and we went out for ice cream to celebrate. I can't wait to do this with Everett!

    Check to see what children's programs are offered at your library. Our library system has a Mother Goose program for 0-12 months, and I took Everett for the first time when he was eight weeks old. He slept through most of it, but slowly he paid more and more attention to the reading and singing.

    Pretty much as soon as he could follow directions (probably 1.5) I started letting him help me scan the books. We have self-checkout at our libraries. He stands on the chair and places the card/books on the machine. We started small. I would hand them to him and then take them from him. Now he does it all himself, even puts them in our bag and presses the "email receipt" button on the touch screen. That machine is a BIG deal to a little toddler, and it definitely adds value to his library trips.
  4. Make books available throughout our home. We keep books in our living area, in his work room (the Blue Room), in the reading nook (the end of the hallway), and at the foot of our bed. There are a few in each spot, and I switch them out once a week. I've noticed he's more likely to sit with a book he hasn't seen in a while.
  5. Make stories come alive by performing, not just reading. Okay, I know this one is hard for some people. My husband is not comfortable performing books. On the other hand, I didn't even realize I was doing it until my husband pointed it out. Just do what you're comfortable with. Make up character voices. Change your tone, reading speed, volume, etc. to match what's happening in the story. A good practice story is We're Rabbits. The rabbits go slow, fast, crash and more in this silly story.
How are you fostering a love of reading in your child?

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