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As a bookworm and storyteller myself, raising readers is something that has always been important to me. I believe that stories and books hold power. Reading from a young age taught me lessons I needed to learn and gave me an understanding of things that I have never personally experienced. It gave me an escape from boredom and stress and a love for travel even though I’ve never physically left my country. It taught me to care for people I’ve never met and characters that didn’t even exist. Diving into the lives of fictional characters gave me a new perspective and insight into things that I was experiencing in the real world. It showed me that you can love a villain and hate a hero and that people are multidimensional.
Books have helped make me who I am and I want every bit of that and more for my kids.
Some facts about reading:
- Children introduced to reading early on tend to read earlier and excel in school compared to children who are not exposed to language and books at a young age.
- Reading to children early on profoundly influences literacy and language development.
- Reading out loud together is a powerful way for adults to bond with children in a meaningful way, creating feelings of trust, safety, and love.
- A 2013 study in the American Psychological Association’s journal Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts found that the process of imagining scenes while reading led to an increase in empathy and prosocial behavior.
- In 2013 researchers from New School argued in Science Magazine that literary fiction temporarily enhances a skill known as theory of mind, the ability to imagine what might be going on in someone else’s head.
- Reading out loud builds world knowledge for children to draw on not only when reading but later when they are writing or trying to understand new information.
8 Tips For Raising Readers
Add Storytime Into Your Daily Routine
Life can get busy, especially if you have kids, and things can often be missed. To make sure you are reading to your kids every day add it into your routine. I read five picture books to the girls before bed, which usually equals out to about 20 minutes of reading. Not only are they getting the benefits of reading, but it is creating a healthy habit of reading before bed which will help them as they get older.
Let Them See You Reading
Kids want to be like the people they look up to, and usually, that list includes you. If you want your kids to love reading then you need to lead by example. There is a ton of research to back up the idea that kids mimic much of our behavior and learn by watching what we do. When I think about my own childhood, I can remember seeing my mom read all that time. I also remember many of the fictional characters that I grew to love and admire being readers: Matilda, Hermione, Rory Gilmore, Belle, Anne Shirley, Elizabeth Bennet, and Klaus Baudelaire.
Go To The Library
You don’t have to own a million books to raise a reader. There was a point when I was a kid that we just didn’t have the money for books and I remember spending a lot of time at my school library. Teaching your kids how to use the library shows them that books are always accessible and allows them to try out many different books. The library is also a great way to get involved with your community. They usually have local events posted up, as well as things like classes, author talks, and storytime.
Have Quiet Time
My kids are getting to the age where they just refuse to nap. And while I can’t force them to sleep, I think to have some sort of quiet time to relax is important for both them and me. During this time they sit in bed and they can either take a nap (which they rarely do) or lay there quietly and read.
Listen to Audiobooks
Audiobooks are a great way to teach your kids a love for stories without always having to pick up a book. The way we use audiobooks the most is through our Kids Echo Dot. With the kid’s edition Echo Dot you get a 1-year subscription the FreeTime Unlimited, where you get access to over a thousand audiobooks. You can also find audiobook at your local library or sign up for Audible and have access to your audiobooks at any time. You can get a 30-day free trial to Audible, here.
Make Books Accessible
If you want your kids to read keep their books in a place where they can get to them. This can be scary if you have younger kids because they can be quite destructive, but if they can get to their books they will pick them up. I tend to keep most of our picture books on a low shelf so the girls have easy access. Since my kids are two and three, they can get a bit crazy, so I have some of our newer books and favorite reads designated for bedtime and I keep those out of reach so they don’t get messed up.
Buy Books They Love
I loved Madeline as a kid, and I still love reading it today, but my kids don’t seem to be as interested in it as I was, and that’s okay. Before buying books, give them a test run at the library or try out a kid’s book subscription, like Literati, so you can figure out which books your kids really love. (You can check out my Literati review, here.) If your kids have access to books that they love, they will be more motivated to pick up a book.
Some of my kids’ favorites:
Bring Books Along
Whenever we go somewhere, whether we are flying, driving, or just waiting at the doctor’s office, I try to make sure I bring some books with me. As the girls get older, I would prefer that they look to a book for entertainment instead of a screen, so I try to give them that option when were are out as well.