From the time our children were babies we read to them a lot, identifying pictures in books. Building their vocabularies, along with a love of books, one word at a time. And it paid off! Our daughter could already say many words at 9 months, and by age one spoke in complete phrases! Our son, also an early starter, was just a bit behind his sister.
As they grew, the books grew in length and so did our reading time. While homeschooling, we read aloud daily after lunch.
We traveled the world with great classics like The Swiss Family Robinson, The Wind in the Willows, Aesop’s Fables, The Railway Children, and Robinson Crusoe. And we laughed and cried with our favorite series, like Tales from Grandma’s Attic, Anne of Green Gables, and the Louisa May Alcott books. I still remember them crying as Pa, in the Little House on the Prairie series, walked miles and miles in broken boots to find work.
They were learning to immerse themselves in the stories. And we were creating important bonds. Which are just two of the reasons experts encourage parents to raise readers!
Benefits of this wholesome entertainment:
- It develops language skills.
- It exercises the brain and improves concentration.
- It develops imagination, curiosity, and creativity.
- It increases listening and social skills.
- It creates a thirst for knowledge.
- It teaches the value of books and stories.
- It broadens their horizons and understanding of the world.
- It helps them distinguish between real and make-believe.
- It can help them understand new or scary events, and accept change.
- It helps for school.
- But most importantly, for us as Christ followers, is that a real love of books can even create a desire for God’s Word!
And most of all, because kids who love reading are more likely to love knowledge and the written word.
Friends often wondered how we got our kids to read so much. But I don’t think we could have stopped them, had we wanted to! They loved it!
Getting kids to read was difficult then, and it’s even harder with all the added distractions these days! So I’d like to share some tried and proven, timeless tips on how to raise readers — even in our technological era!
How to raise readers:
1. Start young.
Children have an innate hunger to know and learn. And books, even picture books, can open that new and wonderful world for them. Feed that appetite by reading to them, evenas infants. (But if you didn’t start so young, don’t worry. Better late than never!)
2. Children learn by example.
Kids love to “do like big people.” If the adults in their lives love reading, chances are it will rub off on them!
3. Limit screen time and make it your ally!
We didn’t have a TV for much of our childrens’ childhood, and greatly limited their Nintendo time. So rather than just sit around, they’d read. And the more they read, the more they wanted to read! It’s always best to limit screen time, because of the harm it can cause to the brain and eyes. But at least encourage your kids to use it for reading by providing them with ebooks and kindle books!
4. Suppy reading material.
There’s something enticing about an unopened, never-read book! What’s it about? Where will it take me? But you can’t expect kids to read if there’s nothing interesting to read.
5. Make reading a family activity.
Children also have a great desire for family time. Family activities help them feel a necessary and wanted part of the family.
We continued family reading time into our kids’ teen years and they loved it! I rotated dish chores with them, but I usually got out of mine! 😉 Because they preferred hearing another chapter!
6. Make reading a treat!
Our weekly library trip became a special event, especially after they got their own library cards! It was like meeting a bunch of new friends through the new books!
7. And help them see that great books are lifelong friends.
Friends that they can go back and visit again and again. Because a truly great book never grows old. Its meaning only grows richer with the passing years.
A truly great book should be read in youth, again in maturity and once more in old age, as a fine building should be seen by morning light, at noon and by moonlight.Robertson Davies