Reading has always been an important part of my life.
I was taught to read by my mother before I was 3 years old.
Nightly story time began when my children were still in the womb.
But loving to read, and raising your child(ren) to love to read are two very different things.
Children that become lifelong readers (like me!) often need that "perfect" book, something that just opens their imagination and introduces them to the wide world of fiction.
Non-fiction was always my children's first foray into independent reading. They loved to read books about animals, weather and geography.
But getting them to read fiction INDEPENDENTLY was a little challenging. I always read fiction books to them during our evening story time. Harry Potter, Little House on the Prairie, and of course, shorter non-chapter books like Ferdinand the Bull, Going on a Bear Hunt, Skippy Jon Jones, and Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel were (and still are!!) some of our favorites.
In 3rd grade I bought Haley all of the Sunshine State Young Readers Award books (SSYRA) she read a few of them, but it was more out of a sense of obligation to ME than of her wanting to do it for HER.
I found it so odd that a child of a LIBRARIAN wouldn't take the mom librarians suggestion for great books. She'd take suggestions from her school media specialist and classroom teacher but not her own mother.
So I backed off, and decided to use the tips I used with my own library patrons to try to instill a lifelong love of reading in my own children.
1. READ ALOUD. Just as I mentioned above, reading aloud is something that I have always done with my kids, and continue to do with them today at ages 8, 9, and 10. They love to have me read them a story, and I love reading to them.
2. STICK WITH A SERIES. If my kids love a book that is part of a series, I'll continue reading the series to them. But I noticed that Haley (my oldest) was often asking to read ahead in the series. I'd get her hooked on the first book, and then she'd take the series and finish the rest of it! Score one for Mom Librarian!
3. MODEL READING BEHAVIOR. I make sure that my kids see me reading. And reading a REAL book. Not an e-book. Not a magazine, but a real honest to goodness book. I also make sure that reading is part of our family lifestyle. The kids and I have a 30 minute "silent reading" time every afternoon. I read, they read, and though 30 minutes is hard for Ronin, he's working on it. He might only get 10 minutes, and then I read aloud to him for the other 20 minutes.
4. LET THEM CHOOSE!! This one was hard for me. I despised when Haley would bring home Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. But she loved them. She could read through them quickly, she was laughing, she was engaged. I had to remind myself that even through Greg demonstrated behaviors that I didn't want Haley to do, it didn't mean that she would simply by reading the book. If anything it was the opposite. She got to "live" through Greg's bad choices.
5. CLASSICS!! As a librarian I have a TON of books in our home. And a lot of those books are classics. Charlotte's Web, Anne of Green Gables, The Secret Garden, etc., all take up a prominent spot on our bookshelves. As Haley started to become a more voracious reader, she started grabbing the classics to fill up her time between visits to the library.
This year, Haley decided she wanted to read the SSYRA books. All 15 of them. She started last week, and as of today she has read 8 of the 15 books.
But the BEST part of watching my children emerge as readers is that they are reading just for the sake of reading. Countless studies have shown that children that start reading earlier have better academic success AND become LIFELONG readers.
And we visit the library often!! They have so much more at the library than just books!! Like Lego's. Lego's are fun.
Do you have any tips to share on raising a reader??