I’m a bookworm. I have loved to read as long as I can remember. Once, our school did a read-a-thon to raise money for a charity. My step-dad pledged $1/book (that was a lot of money back in the day) because he didn’t think I’d read that many books. It seems like the goal was 20 books per reader, and, of course, I read them all!
My step-dad later told me that he knew I’d do it. He just wanted to add a sense of challenge for me. That’s probably true.
I was the kid who always won an award for reading tons of books over the summer. I would lie on my bed, with my pet parakeet perched on the book nibbling the pages, and read for hours.
Of course, I didn’t have the television, video games, and the internet competing for my attention. Back in those days, there were only three channels (five if you could get the public broadcast channels to come in), and they were all showing soap operas all day long. (Confession: I was hooked on General Hospital during the Luke, Laura, and Scorpio years.)
So, how do you ignite a child’s passion for reading these days with so many electronic devices vying for their attention? My kids aren’t die-hard bookworms like I was (Seriously, you’d think I’d have at least one.), but they do enjoy reading. Even the dyslexic ones. It’s worth noting that it’s wrong to think that people with dyslexia don’t enjoy reading. They do; it’s just a slower, more challenging process for them.
Share Your Love of Reading
The most basic step in raising kids who love to read is to share your love of reading with them. I read to my babies before they were born. Yes, I was that mom who would read to her pregnant belly.
I’d lie in bed reading board books to the kids when they were infants. I introduced them to my favorite children’s books when they got a bit older. We went to Story Time at the library, and they chose their own books to bring home each week. (And usually to a fast-food place with a playground with friends afterward, so Story Time was always a highly anticipated event.)
Read bedtime stories to your kids. (Even when they’re older.) Let them see you read. Join kid-friendly book clubs or start a family book club. Have 20-30 minutes of silent reading time each day during which you all read (or look at picture books or wordless books) on your own. Yes, this means you, Mom.
Introduce Your Kids to a Variety of Genres
I have three kids, and they all have vastly different preferences when it comes to reading genre. My boy has always preferred non-fiction books. Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel was one of the few picture books he’d sit still for as a kid. He always preferred fact-based books about trucks, cars, and military stuff.
One of my girls has loved Shakespeare since she was 15. She also devours manga and fantasy novels. The other girl likes stories and biographies. The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series was what first got her hooked on reading.
Introduce your kids to a variety of genres so they can discover their favorites. A friend of mine used to have her kids choose at least one biography, one non-fiction, one fiction, and one book of poetry each time they visited the library. Those are some well-read young adults who were avid readers throughout their teen years.
Give Your Kids a Firm Foundation
Teaching a child to read is probably the single-most important skill you can give them. If a kid can read, he can learn about anything. One of the most critical aspects of teaching reading is keeping it fun. After you’ve shared your love of reading with your kids, you don’t want to ruin it by turning the activity into drudgery for them.
One resource that I keep hearing about over and over in the homeschooling community is Reading Eggs. Reading Eggs is web-based reading instruction designed for kids ages 2-13 that I wish had been around when my kids were learning to read.
It features games, songs, and rewards that have been carefully designed to engage kids and keep them motivated. Kids can access Reading Eggs on the web or a mobile device using the iOS or Android app. It’s perfect for today’s tech-savvy, screen-loving kids. I mean, seriously, my 4-year-old niece can navigate a tablet better than I can.
The Junior level uses games, songs, and videos to teach 2-4-year-olds pre-reading skills. Reading Eggs teaches 4-7-year-olds phonics, sight words, spelling, vocabulary, and reading comprehension. Kids ages 7-13 can build on those skills with comprehension lessons, games, and an online library using Reading Eggspress.
Reading Eggs offers several affordable subscription levels, but from now until February 11, 2018, you can try it for free for 4 weeks. Just click through the link and sign up to get started!
What has worked well for you for inspiring a love of reading in your kids?