“There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island” Walt Disney
From a very early age, my mom instilled a love for books in me. She read to me daily, often times for an hour at a time since this was the only way I would open my mouth to eat when I was a baby. She still reminds me about that to this day! I would get excited hearing the story that she was reading, open my mouth, and then she would swiftly put a spoonful of baby food into my mouth before I knew what was happening. When I started Kindergarten, my teacher remarked that she knew that I was a student who “had been read to a lot”. There was never a shortage of books in our home. We frequented the library and had our own large library of books we owned. I fondly remember the many summer days that we would go to the library and check out stacks of books to read during those carefree days.
My love for books grew throughout elementary school through high school. I had exceptional English teachers in High School which further increased and supported my love for literature. In college, when I was earning my BA in English, I recall that one of my literature classes had 35 books to read in one semester. I was so thrilled that I would be reading that many books in such a short period of time. Being a reader is a gift because it allows you to have a “willing suspension of disbelief” and journey to another place, time, or world through reading words on a page. Imagination is sparked, language is improved, and vocabulary is expanded through reading.
My passion for reading has now transferred to my children! It brings me such joy to seem them enjoy a dazzling story. I see the adventure in their eyes, and the wheels in their head turning in thinking about the excitement that awaits them as each page turns. Babies need to be read to just as much as toddlers, preschoolers, and elementary students do! A love for reading can start at birth. Babies being read to will hear the inflection in your voice as you read different stories to them. Soon they will be crawling towards books in anticipation of hearing the story. My children bring me stacks of books that they choose from their bookshelf, snuggle up beside me, and eagerly await to hear the story. These are precious memories that create a bond between the parent and child.
How can you encourage reading and have a child learn to love books? Here are some things that our family has done over the last 9 years:
- Have a book basket. Fill up a basket full of books and leave it out for your child to enjoy. Keep it in the living room, family room, or dining room to provide several opportunities to read throughout the day!
- Visit the library…frequently! The library is such a valuable resource and best of all, it is free!
- Visit and purchase books from a local children’s bookstore. In Orange County, we have the most amazing children’s bookstore: Once Upon a Storybook. It is a lovely space for children and adults!
- Read the classics. The classics are classic for a reason…the story never gets old! A lot of what we see in movies, tv shows, and cartoons comes from classic stories and literature. The classics provide a rich foundation for a love of literature.
- Read non-fiction. While we always enjoy fiction, we also equally enjoy reading non-fiction. Our favorite non-fiction books include animals, sea creatures, and the human body. These topics fascinate kids, and they bring about great discussions as you learn with your child!
- Bedtime Storytime. I wish I could say that we always read before bedtime, but the reality is, that isn’t always the case. Most nights we do read before bedtime, and this is where I usually have my husband read to the kids! He brings an element that only he can bring to reading the story…his silly reading style! The kids absolutely love this and their laughter is contagious!
- Books before media. In our culture, media is everywhere! Encourage your child to read as a way to earn minutes for media. Thirty minutes of reading can equal thirty minutes of media. I have also done this with physical activity (thirty minutes of physical activity will earn thirty minutes of media).
- Become a Usborne Books and More Consultant! I signed up with Usborne Books and More for the main reason of continuing to build a children’s library for our home. I love Usborne books and so do my children! If you would like more information about Usborne Books and More, please contact me.
I hope you enjoyed reading a few of the ideas that we have implemented in our family to encourage reading!
I would love to hear how you promote reading in your family!