Think about the role reading played in your life as you were growing up. Did someone read to you? Were there a lot of books in your home? Did you go to the library often?

Why is it that some of us gravitate toward reading as either a learning or pleasure activity while others are repelled by it? My answer is that it depends first on our schooling, second on our upbringing and third on what strategies, if any, we have learned to use. In most of my past posts, I have focused on strategies. Here, I want to focus on the upbringing part.

To instill good reading values in our children, here are some common-sense ideas for helping our children become life-long readers:

  1. Limit television! An hour a day is plenty for a busy school-aged kid. Better yet, restrict TV time to weekends only. Also limit time spent doing Xbox, Nintendo, videos, and other hand-held electronic games.
  2. Read to your kids daily from the time they are born through first grade (about age 7). This quiet time, usually squeezed in at bedtime, is highly valued by both the child and the adult. It sends the message that reading is an intimate, quiet activity that both adults and children can enjoy. Encourage visiting friends and relatives to share in the ritual.
  3. Let them read to you as your child learns to read on their own (around 1st grade). Don’t correct every missed word but help when they ask for it.
  4. Go to the library often – even after they start school. Most public libraries have wonderful family reading programs for all ages and stages. Get your child a library card and call it “the ticket to the world.”
  5. Help them find 20-30 minutes per day – every day – to read something.
  6. Encourage your child to read what THEY are interested in. Go to your local library or bookstore and tell them they can pick out only “x” number of items. You’ll be amazed as they will at what they find when given the chance.
  7. Let your children see YOU reading often. You might read the newspaper in the morning (and share the appropriate parts with them as they mature), your snail mail in the afternoon and magazines and books in the evenings.
  8. Give books as gifts for birthdays and special occasions. If you travel, bring a book back and they will look forward to your return AND your gift.

Do you have another way of making reading a valuable experience for children? Please email me!


Image via Creative Common

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