I often joke with my husband that there should be some kind of reward for ME every time one of my sons learns to read. Everyone celebrates the child, as they should, but like … as hard as it was for them, can I just maybe be honest in that IT IS JUST AS HARD FOR ME to not loose my cool when they get the word cat wrong for the 14th straight day in a row?! SHEW it is a C-H-O-R-E, let me tell you - one I am thankful for and really do love getting to witness in regards to progress. But gracious goodness was there ever a trial in patience than sitting down with a wiggly little boy trying to get them to sit down for a measly five minutes and work through a reading lesson. It is a little bit like wrangling and octopus with 27 arms.
One way we’ve eased into learning to read is to instill a love of reading at a young age.
Here are 5 ways to help raise readers and teach children to love reading:
Books. Lots of Books. Everywhere. At every age. Simple enough, right? Starting young, make books the norm. Books in the bedroom, in the car, by the mantle, at the kitchen table. Having books around is literally the first step to instilling a habit of book reading as enjoying and entertaining.
Go to the library! Don’t wait for your children to ask to go to the library, just do it. Make it a part of your weekly or monthly schedule. Sign up for classes and let them peruse at their own pace; Let them get a library card at a young age and fill up their own bags.
Ditch the electronics. This is a constant battle, especially when places (such as the library) have them on display and preloaded with apps for kids. HOWEVER. If a child walks into a room and they have to choose between a book and a tablet, they will 9/10 choose the tablet. If a child walks into a room and there is no tablet - or xbox - or kindle - or iPhone - or computer - OR there are parameters on said electronics - then the child isn’t going to choose what’s not available :) In common areas of rest/relaxing, offer books instead of screens! Perusing pictures is just as satisfying for the non reader as diving into a 500 page novel for the thriving reader.
Read aloud, often. As kids get older and more capable of reading on their own I find I have to remind myself that my fluent readers enjoy being read to, also. Almost every night when I am found reading to my preschooler, even books the olders have heard time and time again, I am left with more than just one child listening in to the bedtime stories. Sarah MacKenzie offers great monthly read aloud lists that are delivered directly to your inbox, as well as an entire list of boy-friendly books for every age group. These are great to have on hand say, in a waiting room, during snack time, while you’re waiting for dinner to finish.
Let them choose content. To be honest, this is a hard one for me. I do not love reading Ninjago books aloud, nor do I really enjoy reading through insect encyclopedias. But letting children choose their areas of interest will engage your learner and give them the desire to pick up their books in passing and during down time. It’s important especially in the young and developing reader that they are not be forced to read things that are downright torturous to them. For one of my sons, reading anything unrealistic is absurd. For another, the more outrageous and impossible the better. Letting them choose gives them ownership, excitement and develops curiosity.
*I will often check out several children’s books for my children every week. I try to find things that interest them or maybe something I’d like them to explore more to pique a new interest.
*A resource we’ve continually referred back to for reading lists and wholesome children’s series is Honey for a Child’s Heart.