Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Twenty-One Ways to Grow a Reader {Updated}

{I posted a blog quite similar to this back in 2013, but there have been some changes since then. And since the time for summer reading programs is quickly approaching, I’ve updated the post.}

When I was a child, I would frustrate my mother by reading so much. I still managed my chores, and I earned good grades. But sometimes, when I would go outside “to play,” I would climb a tree and disappear into its branches, book in hand. On summer break, before I was old enough to have a job, I would sit and read an entire book in one day.

Are some of us born readers?

I don’t know.

But I don’t want to leave my children to chance. I began, intentionally, to teach them to love reading at an early age. Some of my children are still relatively young, so whether this will stick for life has yet to be seen for them. But my 17yo and 15yo continue to list reading at the top of their hobby list.

Summer reading programs are quickly approaching, so here are twenty-one tips for growing voracious readers.

  1. Read aloud, copiously, when the children are little. Voices, too.
  2. Continue reading aloud even after the children can read for themselves. Voices, too. J
  3. Play with books – spread them out as roads for cars, build them into forts, wear them as silly hats.
  4. Let your children see you read…a lot.
  5. Let your children see their father read, or talk about how much he reads at work.
  6. Ask them about what they’re reading. What is it about? Who is their favorite character? What is their favorite part?
  7. Talk about books…a lot.
  8. When you talk about books, be excited…a lot.
  9. Give your children books for both birthday and Christmas. Our children know that at least one of their gifts will be a book. We also usually give a book or two to the family at Easter as well.
  10. Praise them when they read a book…a lot.
  11. Quote from books. For example, if my husband or I need to call for the children because we’re leaving someplace, we often call out, “Chidlers!” They know that when they hear that call, they need to gather. But do you know why we call them chidlers? We haven’t mixed up our words. J It’s from The BFG by Roald Dahl. The Big Friendly Giant in that book calls children, chidlers. {An interesting aside: in all the years we’ve been using that term out in public, only one person knew where it was from. She was a librarian at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., and the children lit up to be able to talk to her about books.}
  12. As the oldest children become avid readers, encourage them to encourage the younger children to read.
  13. Reduce or eliminate broadcast television. We don’t have television at all, but we read, play games, play together, and talk.
  14. Reduce or eliminate DVDs. Some days, we don’t watch any DVDs at all. Other days, it might be perhaps just a couple of half-hour movies.
  15. Reduce or eliminate video games. We used to have a Wii, but when the remote controls went on the fritz, we ditched it.
  16. Reduce or eliminate phones. Our children {the oldest is 17} don’t have phones or any handheld devices {except kindles J}.
  17. Reduce your use of your phone. Our children don’t see me constantly fiddling around on a hand-held device. I do check a few things now and then, but it’s not a tumorous growth on my hand. J
  18. Make going to the library or bookstore a big deal. At the library, I put very little limit on how many books they can take home. If we go to a bookstore, we usually go to Half-Price Books where we feel a little more financial freedom to let them buy {almost} whatever they want. Hmm…a book for $1.00 or a Wii game for $20. That’s a no-brainer.
  19. Decorate with books on bookshelves.
  20. Talk about the value of reading and how life and learning are much easier and more enjoyable when there is a love of reading.
  21. Pray. I have prayed since their birth that each of my children would love to read.

Happy reading!

Do your children like to read? How have you encouraged that?

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  1. All wonderful ideas to keep children loving to read!

  2. I grew up loving to read, too (and still do). My children have a healthy enjoyment of reading as well, even those who read a little more slowly. I like that they can learn just about anything they want to with a little searching for a book on the topic they are interested in learning.


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