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Reading, in general, is on the decline. Instead of picking up a good book, many kids and adults alike would rather play on their phones and tablets, play video games, or watch TV. Because of this, it is more important than ever to to raise kids who love to read.
Getting your kids to read and like it really isn’t as difficult as it may seem. With these five simple steps, you too can raise little readers.
Of course, it is best to start when they’re young, but even older kids can turn into readers. There was a time when my oldest didn’t love reading independently as much as he used to love being read to, but we turned that around. Now he is a teenager who often has his nose in a book.
While I don’t feel like I’ve done anything magical in my parenting that has cultivated a love of books in my children, here I am with two kids who love to read.
So, how did I do it?
1. Have books in the house.
Both children’s books and books for adults are important to have around. Kids tend to emulate their parents, so if books are something they see every day, they will think of them as normal. Then reading for fun won’t seem like a foreign concept.
Whether you have a full library, a few bookcases, or a small shelf, just have some books in the home.
2. Let them see you read.
Children learn by example. Seeing their parents and other family members read regularly helps to instill the idea that reading is normal and fun. Children of readers are more likely to be readers themselves.
3. Read to them.
This might seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how few children are read to regularly. With everyone being so busy, many kids don’t get a bedtime story every day, much less stories throughout the day.
A book at bedtime every night is part of my children’s bedtime routine and we also read to them almost any time they want a story. Even after they can read to themselves, continuing to read books out loud is a great bonding experience and continues to foster a love of books as well as increasing their vocabulary for school.
For older children, encourage them to read for a period of time before bed. For my oldest son, part of his bedtime routine was to go to bed and read for a half-hour before lights out.
4. Visit the library or bookstore regularly.
Whether it’s every day, once a week, or once a month, bring children to the library regularly. Start bringing your children to the library as early as possible because even babies will love to look at books and play in the play area.
Pick out books with your child, read to them while at the library and bring some books home. Even try an age-appropriate storytime if your child is up for it.
In addition to the library, bring your children to bookstores. You don’t necessarily have to buy something every time, but let your child put together a wish list and bring that list to the library or give them those books as holiday gifts.
You don’t have to bring them to stores that sell new books either. If you have a great secondhand bookstore nearby, they can be a goldmine and typically charge half the price of standard bookstores.
I love used books, there is something magical to me about their smell so I frequently take my kids to thrift stores or used bookstores. There are many places to buy used books and it’s a great way to build your child’s collection as well as your own without draining your bank account.
5. Encourage their interests.
Let your children choose the books they want. This sounds simple, right? But it can be hard for parents not to express their opinions. Believe me, I know. But if they want to read a book that you feel is below their reading level, let them. It’s okay.
With my older son, I couldn’t get him to move beyond Diary of a Wimpy Kid, so I tried to push my ideas of what I thought he should be reading on him. This was a mistake. Predictably, all he did was push back.
Once I got over myself and encouraged him to read what he wanted, he started reading more often and moved on to more challenging age-appropriate books.
That’s it! It really is quite easy to get your kids to love reading with just a few simple steps. In the process, you may also find that you love reading more as well.