Written by contributor Anne Bogel of Modern Mrs. Darcy
My kids will happily read just about anything–unless it’s assigned reading.
And if I make the further mistake to try to sell them on it? Well, forget about it. They won’t touch that book for years.
(Am I the only one?)
This used to upset me–as a parent, a teacher, and a curriculum director.
Of course, I could make them just read the book, and they’d do it. But you know what? We’ve worked hard to foster a love of learning in our kids. Instead of forcing them to begrudgingly read, I’ve decided to play to my strengths–and to theirs.
Because my kids will read just about anything–happily, and of their own initiative–if they think it’s their own idea. We’ve found a few ways to take advantage of that.
Our approach to reading with our kids is pretty simple.
1. We assume reading is awesome.
We don’t talk about why kids should read or how important it is. We have a deep core assumption in our house that reading is pretty fabulous. It’s a family value.
2. We model a love of reading.
My husband and I make it pretty clear that we enjoy reading. In quiet moments, we often grab a book and hit the couch. We always have great stacks of books lying around, and we are always reading them.
Our bookshelves aren’t just for decoration: they’re stocked with good books that we actually use. And on the rare occasion that the UPS man delivers a new book, I do a little happy dance. Our kids know how we feel about books.
3. We read together.
We have always read to our kids, since they were teeny tiny. A nine-month-old may not get a lot out of Frog and Toad, but I couldn’t wait to read to them, so I did it anyway.
My strong readers love to read to my three-year-old. We’re teaching our six-year-old to read right now so she can get in on the fun.
During the cooler months, we read nightly as a family. We try to make this a special time, with candles, cozy blankets, a yummy bedtime snack–and a really great book. (Our current selection: The Chronicles of Narnia.)
4. We leave good books lying around. (Carefully!)
My kids will read just about anything they find lying around the house, so I make sure we always have good books within easy reach.
(My kids choose plenty of their own reading material, but I heavily supplement their selections. Otherwise, one child would always be reading about trains; another would read only American Girl books.)
We occasionally rotate the selections on our family bookshelves and the ones in their room, we have well-stocked book baskets for reading time, and we are heavy library users.
This works so well I have to be careful about what I leave lying around: I don’t really want my kids reading The Atlantic yet, we vet each issue of Sports Illustrated before dropping it in the magazine basket, and many of my own books-in-progress belong on my nightstand, not the family coffee table. If I don’t want them to read it, I don’t keep it in the family spaces.
5. We talk about what we’re reading.
Not just because it’s an assignment or “school” time (although we do that, too). We discuss our reading because people like to talk about their favorite sports, shows, games, and … books.
We all talk about our current reads at the dinner table–what we like, what we don’t, what we think. Even our preschooler and early reader can chime in on a conversation like this.
This isn’t an exhaustive list, by any means. How do you get your kids excited about reading?