How do you raise a reader?

Friday, July 12, 2013


I’m not ready to make the leap into parenthood (is anyone ever ready?), but lately I’ve been thinking about raising readers.

So I wanted to ask all of you moms and dads out there, how do you encourage your kids to read?

I know some people are naturally inclined to be readers and others hate it. How do you get your kids to read without it feeling like a chore? When I was growing up we always had rules about how much TV you could watch in the summer time. You could only watch 1 hour of TV for every hour you spent reading and you had to play outside a lot as well. I already loved to read at that point, but I wonder if that rule made my siblings resent reading or see it as a chore.

Thoughts?

p.s. Here's a book on the topic over at Sunlit Pages

Image from this CNN article on getting kids to read.

16 comments:

Sarah said...

I'm not a parent or even planning to be quite yet, but I think about it all the time too! Hubby and I are both readers, it would be kind of devastating if children weren't

Mari Reads said...

Read to them, read with them, let them see you reading daily. Important that they read for enjoyment and see you reading for enjoyment as well. I make a point to read my own books when my little one is reading. Usually doesn't last long, but it shows her how much I love to read my books as much as hers.

Bookworm1858 said...

I'm not a parent but I am the child of readers who raised me to be a reader (not as much my sister so I think personality might have a lot to do with it). But it helps to surround the child with books and to read a lot yourself to demonstrate its importance and fun.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Sarah - I'm glad I'm not alone. I've always wondered what on earth I would do with a kid who hated reading.

Mari Reads - Wonderful advice! I'd never thought about making sure your kids see you reading and know how much you value it.

Bookworm1858 - I definitely think you're right about personality. My parents were both readers, but my sister isn't a reader either.

Sarah Reads Too Much said...

My son is 7 and he's just just becoming more independent with reading. He doesn't love it like I do, but I'm trying not to be too pushy. He's already told me that he doesn't like to read in school because "he HAS to read" then. So the trick is to make it his idea... He likes when I read to him, so we do that often. Also, we have a deal that if he doesn't have school or something to do in the morning, he can stay up as late as he wants - as long as he stays in bed reading. He thinks that is super cool and he has his own book light and everything. I love when he brings a pile of books to bed with him! Will is all work? I don't know. But I'm doing the best I can!

angrygreycatreads.com said...

I have two kids and one is an avid reader like me and the other is severely dyslexic and for her reading is a hated chore. For my daughter, she initially started out struggling with reading, she had a learning disability but it was like they said interest trumps everything. The Lord of the Rings Movies came out and she was fascinated and was determined to read those books. She has stopped reading since.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

I honestly think "it's the luck of the draw". My 2 children are 2 yr/8 mths apart - with my daughter the oldest. She always loved books and my son not so much. We always went to the library and when they were young and we'd go to a store, they knew they could ask for a new book and get one, but no toys.

Jennifer Hartling said...

They say it's best to lead by example. Whoever "they" are ;) When my kids were small I read to them daily, I've always got a book in my hand, our house is filled with books. You'd think that would do it, right? My eldest daughter loves to read. My middle, a boy, can take it or leave it. My youngest daughter is VERY picky about her books. We'll see what happens when they are adults :)

Trish said...

I think that leading by example does help but I'm the only reader out of four children. My sister does like to read but she isn't quite as obsessed as I am. My dad and stepmom probably read more than I do (my stepmom for sure) but I think that some kids just take a natural liking to it while others have to work a little bit more. And honestly, while I read to Elle ALL THE TIME when she was a baby (because what else were we going to do), now I'm more likely to sing songs with her before bed then read books. I am grateful that on those nights that we read books, she's enthusiastic and will sit through a few of them. I do look forward to the time when we can read chapter books (classics!) in bed. I loved doing this with my mom.

Elisabeth said...

I limited tv time and computer time but never made reading a demand. I always read to them at bedtimes or when they asked what they could do, I would always suggest that I read to them. What I think my kids remember the most though was the times I read at meals. The hubby/ dad travelled a lot, so it was just me and the kids at dinner. I read picture books when they were little and as they got older we read chapter books. I never forced reading. Lead by example and they always saw me reading. As kids and teens only one of the four always had his nose in a book, but now as adults they have all become readers. Faith and patience.

Amy said...

What a coincidence to see this post today as I was just brainstorming posts for a new series I'm going to start about how to raise a reader! Obviously, my experience is pretty limited since my boys are all still so young, but at this point, their lives are literally filled with books every day, and all of them love reading.

I think it is important for kids to see their parents choosing to read over other activities. Just the other day, I was reading "Rapunzel's Revenge" (a graphic novel), and my four-year-old was absolutely fascinated by it. I think he was amazed that I was reading something that looked so fun (and he kept stealing it from me or reading it over my shoulder).

I have twin brothers who both have severe dyslexia, but in spite of their extreme learning disabilities, they both love to read. I give full credit to my mom who wouldn't give up and read out loud to them A LOT to really help instill a love of books.

I think you definitely have to have a certain personality to become a reader, but I also think parents can do a lot of things to help that personality blossom.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Sarah Reads Too Much - I used to read so late at night. My Mom got me a special reading light for my bed, I loved it!

angrygreycatreads - I'd never even thought about how reading disorders would affect everything.

Diane - I like that, as many books as you want, but limited toys.

Jennifer - It's intersting to think you might not know whether they are real readers until they are all grown up. All you can really do is plant the seed.

Trish - I think that we pass down some of the traditions we remember sharing with out parents. If they read ot us maybe we'll make more of an effort ot read to our own chidlren.

Elisabeth - Reading at meals, I'd never thought of that! How wonderful!

Amy - I would love to read a series of posts on that! I agree that personality is a part of it, but I think you're right that making it always seem like a fun thing you choose and not a chore is important!

Jeanne said...

My technique was to have a house full of books, take everyone to the library once every two weeks, and recommend really good books and re-read them with the kids so we could talk about them (still do this, but now the books are better. I would never have read Infinite Jest on my own.)

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Jeanne - I love that you always read books with your kids. I would love to one day be able to discuss books with my kids as we read them together.

Melanie said...

i don't have any kids yet but according to my Kid Lit classes, it's to read to them, with them, in front of them, etc. Make it important when they're little and want to please and surround them with books. It worked for myself and 2 of my brothers.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Melanie - I like the thought of making it something that's just part of your life.