Let me say at the outset: when I was a young person (especially a teenager), I did not like reading. I think it was because in school we “had” to read certain books. I’m glad for that experience now, but I didn’t like it at the time.
Today, Leah and I both love reading. We try to find books all the time and add them to our shelves. And we want our children to be readers. They both are, to an extent. Of course, some kids will enjoy reading more than others. That’s to be expected, and it is okay. We firmly believe, though, that reading is a major key to their future.
We believe that first and foremost because God’s will is revealed in a book–the Bible–that must be read and followed if we are to be found faithful.
But we also believe that because virtually every occupation requires reading if one is to be successful. So, we heavily stress reading in our home. Here are some simple things you can do to encourage your children to be readers.
1. Have Lots of Books in the House. You don’t have to have a house where every nook and cranny is filled with books, but studies prove that houses that have more books have children to enjoy reading more. Get lots of books on things that interest them. Visit used book stores, yard sales, and utilize the internet to get books for very little money. We rarely buy a new book (unless it is for a birthday or Christmas gift), choosing rather to get three or four used books for the same money. Put the books in visible places and just let the kids migrate to topics that interest them.
2. Be a Reader Yourself. Example is a powerful teacher. If you are always telling your kids to read while you are watching TV, they will rarely develop a love for reading. But if they see you open the Bible, a novel, or a good history book on a regular basis, they will be curious as to why you find those “book things” so interesting.
3. Read to Your Children. A parent reading to a child creates a positive experience around books and reading, making it more likely that the child will want to read for him or herself. After all, what little kid does not want to be like mom and dad? So, if “big people” read to children, then don’t be surprised to find your daughter reading to her dolls or your son reading to his stuffed animals. That’s fantastic!
4. Be a Regular at the Local Library. My wife is great about taking our kids to the library and letting them read there, as well as check out books to bring home. Libraries, in many places, also offer special reading programs for children that are a great to let them connect with other children who enjoy reading and stories. (And the books are free!)
5. Let Them Write Their Own Stories. Kids need to learn that these great stories do not just come from thin air, but someone had to write them down, and it was a difficult process! By writing their own stories, they see just how much work–but fun work–goes into making those great stories they like to read.
6. Expect Them to Read. This is huge. What parents expect and hold their children accountable for will get done. I don’t think we necessarily have to have a “required reading list” (although that’s not a bad idea at times), but simply expecting children to read a book each week, or a short story book each day, is a great thing for parents to do. It does not need to be harshly enforced, but a stated expectation helps the child see that reading is a regular part of life.
Now that you are done reading this post…go read something…to your kids!
Photo background credit: Global Partnership for Education on Creative Commons