As a child I did not possess an innate desire to read. In fact, it was quite the opposite. I dreaded our weekly visits to the library, independent reading time, and book reports (yawn!). For me, attending the school book fair meant I could buy new Lisa Frank (how awesome was Lisa Frank?!?!) pencils or a friendship bracelet kit. It wasn’t until college, where I was introduced to some amazing authors, that I really discovered that I did in fact enjoy reading.
My desire to read was one of the primary reasons I enjoyed teaching K-2 grades. I was able to teach and help build a positive reading foundation. Working with my students as well as my own boys, I have discovered three helpful strategies to encourage kids to read.
Reading before bed is important for kids, but don’t let reading only occur in one place. I keep books in almost every room in the house (even the bathroom!) so that books are always within a little one’s reach. I also keep a stack of books in the car for when we are running errands or eating out. I try to switch them out at least once a week so that they don’t get bored. We take weekly trips to the library for my boys choose books of their own, or they tell me the topics they’re interested and we select books together. Barnes and Noble is also a great place for kids, it has a colorful environment and a great place to show kids new books (BONUS: they also have a train table!). I also think B & N is a valuable tool so they can see other people reading.
Bedtime reading is a great habit to form with kids, even when they are babies. I mean who doesn’t love to snuggle up with a good book (and wine) before bed? Although this is a special time to spend with your littles, take some time during the day to read to your child or set aside a special independent reading time too. Both my boys have stopped napping, altogether. Every. Single. Day. I now enforce (and strictly because this is my sanity hour) a quiet time in their bedrooms. They are given the option to sleep (rarely chosen), read, or play with puzzles. I keep stacks of books in their room that they can explore independently.
Read with Everyone
I’ll admit when bedtime rolls around, I’m not always thrilled to read a children’s book, especially if its The Little Blue Truck for the tenth straight night in a row. This is why my husband and I take turns reading to our kiddos. They love to hear daddy read in silly voices or make up funny parts to the book. On Tuesdays I also take our boys to tot time at The Andover Public Library. The librarian reads two stories and usually does fun voices and gestures. My boys are mesmerized. Like Paw Patrol-watching mesmerized. We love it!
Between all the bedtimes and in-between times when you are reading with your kids, don’t forget to show them that reading is fun. Last week I read a book about pirates wearing underpants, obviously not my first choice, but my boys LOVED it and couldn’t believe how silly the book was. I mean pirates and underpants, for small boys, does it get much better? Also while reading make sure to change it up a bit and implement new silly voices while reading. This is especially helpful if you are reading a book for the hundredth time like we seem to do. Or if a book has a repetitive phrase let your kids say that specific part, it helps keep them engaged and let’s them feel like they are reading. If kids can see that you enjoy reading to them, it can help shape a positive attitude towards reading, thus building a life-long desire to read.