Creating lifelong readers is one of the greatest gifts you can give your children. Because reading tops the list of the best ways to get and stay educated, the importance of getting your kids hooked on books early and keeping them hooked cannot be overstated.
Studies have shown that readers excel academically, have better critical thinking skills, and utilize a more extensive vocabulary than non-readers. That means that when you raise a lifelong reader, she will be able to think about what she’s saying, express herself effectively, and learn for a lifetime.
That’s the stuff.
Why Creating Lifelong Readers Is Important
Reading prepares kids for other academic tasks. Experiencing the world through books gives them a basis for understanding history, current events, human nature, and complex problems. Books can even help your kids put geography into context.
Reading books gives your kids a better grasp of language. Seeing how grammar works in a story helps them grasp mechanics where endless worksheets often fail. It’s easy to teach paragraph construction and sentence fluency when your child has experienced both in books.
Also, if they have to be addicted to something, let it be books. Books provide an escape from life’s daily stresses. They transport us away from our worries and give us time to relax. Where else can you learn and relax at the same time?
How to Raise Lifelong Readers
If you want your kids to be lifelong readers, you have to make literature a genuine part of their lives. Here are a few tips for doing that:
Start Them Early
When I say early, I mean immediately. I read to my boys in the womb. You don’t necessarily have to start that early, but it’s a good idea to begin reading aloud to them from birth. Studies show that children who have been read to all their lives are an average of 6 months ahead of their peers when they start school.
Six months. The earlier you start, the better the advantage for your kids
Surround Your Children with Books
I don’t just mean placing a bookshelf in their bedroom with select children’s books on it. Have a bookshelf in every room with a wide variety of books on them. Supply baskets of books where little people can reach them.
Consider follow my lead, and have stacks of books everywhere. Well, that may be a bit obsessive. I could use some of them as coffee tables.
Read in Front of Your Kids
Children love to imitate us. The best way to get your kids hooked on reading is to let them see you read. My boys tease me about always having a book close to hand, but they are the same way. I don’t point it out. Instead, I smirk on the inside.
Read to Them
Don’t stop reading to your children when they learn to read for themselves. Life, video games, and outside fun might disrupt the habit of personal reading. My boys are teenagers, but we still read aloud together every day in our homeschool. It’s just a small reminder that stories are wonderful and they should take the time to read some for themselves.
Let Them Choose the Books
Kids like to have a little control over their lives. If they’re choosing the stories they read, they’re going to be more interested in reading. Sure, it might mean reading Green Eggs and Ham a million times, but it’s worth it if that means they’re going to love books forever.
Make the Library a Regular Thing
The library is a perfect place to allow your kids to choose books. Experiencing a weekly trip to a spot rich with books where they get to be in control will create an extraordinary emotional bond between your children and books.
Use Stories to Supplement Other Lessons
The more kids interact with books, the more they will enjoy them. If you’re learning about the American Revolution, incorporate an appropriate chapter or picture book into your lessons. It’s easy to find novels that will augment lessons in history, science, geography, and even government.
Show Them You’re Interested
Ask questions about what your kids are reading. What’s their favorite part? Who is their favorite character? How would they like the book to end? You could even schedule family book talks so the whole family can discuss what they’re reading. Kids are more likely to be interested in a book if they know others are interested in it, too.
Providing a literature-rich environment is easy, and it’s not much harder to encourage your kids to be readers. With just a little bit of effort, you can give your kids the best advantage of their intellectual journey.
What have you done to encourage reading in your homeschool?