Do your kids love reading? Do they get excited about a new book or a trip to the library? If so, awesome. Whatever you’re doing–keep it up.
Not all kids love to read or be read to. It might actually be a struggle to sit down with a book and have your child want to sit down and read with you. Personalities and temperaments also play a part in a child’s natural tendency to love reading.
Some kids naturally just love to read. It’s like they come out of the womb ready to sit with you and hang on every word. But for most parents, you’re the one who plays a vital role in how to get your little ones to love reading.
My husband and I are both big readers (well, he is a big reader…I used to be before I had 4 kids under the age of 5. Now I just have a very long “to read” list). Books were a big part of our lives pre-kids, so it naturally carried over into our parenting. Some of these reading habits we started day 1, and some have evolved over time. Whatever age your little one is–from newborn on up–you can start habits that will foster a love of reading in them.
And the coolest thing is when they can actually start reading on their own. We’ve seen this start to happen with our firstborn. We started having “learning time” with him when he turned 3, which consisted of learning his letters and sounds. He looked forward to it every day, so we just went at his pace and kept it fun. Now at almost 5, he can’t get enough of books. He reads everything he can get his hands on–and he even reads to his siblings! It’s so neat to watch. (Here we are when he was about a month old reading his favorite, Good Night Moon)
So how can you foster that love of reading in your child?
Start Day 1
It’s never too early to start reading to your baby. We just made it part of our bedtime routine to read a book before praying together. Kids love consistency, and in the early months it’s also a great “sleep cue” because they know that bed is coming. It’s also sooo exciting when they finally are able to turn the pages themselves.
Go to the library often
The library is a GREAT place to go with the little ones. It doesn’t cost anything to go check out a bunch of books or even sit in their children’s area and read together. Most libraries are near parks, so it’s a great opportunity to teach some important behavior skills (let’s use our inside voices–stay close to mommy–you may not pull all the books off the shelves) in the library and then get some energy out at the park.
We keep all of our library books in our library book bin–it works great because the a) the kids have easy access to the books b) they’re not all over the place and c) they don’t get mixed up with our own books. I also recommend keeping the receipt with all of your checked-out books so that you’ll know if you have them all when it’s time to return them.
Keep books in every room
The purpose is to expose them to lots and lots of books. Books can become their go-to entertainment in whichever room they find themselves.
Make reading fun
If my kids ever don’t want to read for whatever reason, we don’t read. Or, I’ll read to the ones who do want to read, and the one who didn’t all of a sudden starts inching his way over to us. Happens every time. The point is to make reading something fun and exciting and special.
Read together daily
Thing through how you can incorporate reading into your routine. A great place to start (if you’re not already) is reading together at bedtime. We let each kid pick out one book to read together. They all have their favorites and they get excited every single night when it’s time for their chosen book.
You can read together at breakfast, before nap time, after dinner–whenever it makes sense for your schedule and routine. It’s best to be consistent because that makes for fewer “but I don’t want to’s”. It’s a tradition instead of a punishment. If they know it happens every day at a certain time, they are more likely to accept it and (eventually) look forward to it.
Give books as gifts
I love buying books for gifts–board books for baby showers, picture books for first birthdays, Christmas books at Christmas, and the list goes on. I’ve been to a baby shower where everyone was asked to bring a book for the baby. It was so neat! That baby was stocked up on books! I’ve also thought about doing a “book exchange party” for one of my kiddos in the near future. I’m sure Pinterest will have lots of ideas. (Or if you have any, please share!)
Let them see you read
By reading in front of your kids, you’re not only actually getting to read a book in the middle of your busy day, but you’re also setting a great example to your kiddos that–yes–even grown-ups like to read. And it’s great for teaching the art and beauty of quiet time/reading time.
Listen to books in the car
This is a newer discovery for us that we’re really enjoying. Whenever we check-out books, I also include a book on CD for when we’re driving in the car. I mean, a person can only listen to Wee Sing Bible Songs so many times before their brain starts to turn to mush and you can’t remember when the radio stations even are anymore.
This is fun for the kids and a nice break for mom. 🙂 And the little ones get to “hear” books, which only helps their language acquisition.
Attend story time
I have to admit, I haven’t attended a library story time since about 3 years ago when I had a 2 year old and a 6 month old and the two of them together were more than this mama could handle in a setting like that (and now it would just be unfathomable with all 4). BUT I could not speak more highly of them. Some of my greatest memories with my first son was taking him to story time. He loved it, we learned great songs and rhymes, and his love for books grew.
Ask other family members to read to them
Get others involved! My kids can’t wait for me to leave whenever my mom visits because they know that as soon as I’m gone, Nana will read to them to their heart’s content. I am perfectly ok with family members spoiling my kids by reading to them. Spoil all you want!
Resources I’ve found helpful
The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease
Hooked on Phonics for Pre K
Hooked on Phonics for Kindergarten