“You’re so lucky that your boys like to read.” A mom at the playground whispered to me as big dude ran back to playground after coming over to tell us about this week’s library book that was tucked away in his backpack.
I nod but I want to tell her that it’s not luck. My husband and I made a decision to raise readers – it didn’t just happen because we were lucky. I hear that a lot from other parents when they see my boys reading – the idea that I’m lucky and that my kids were born loving to read. Not true. I have consciously set out to raise readers and it’s not easy. But it’s so worth it. In dedication to World Literacy Day, I’ll share with you the best advice I have to raise readers.
- Be a reader. My husband and I read all the time. We consciously read in front of our boys in order to show them that reading is a natural part of our lives. Research has shown that seeing parents read (especially fathers) has a significant impact on raising strong readers.
- Let them read whatever they want. I say this as a parent who is currently on my second year of non-stop Ricky Ricotta and his Mighty Robot craze. There are only 8 books in the series and we’ve read them all at least one hundred times. Big dude recently discovered Calvin and Hobbes and he loves reading them with my husband (who surprisingly has a new level of sympathy for Calvin’s dad). Comics, graphic novels, non-fiction, the same book again and again – all awesome choices.
- Try new genres. About four months ago we were in a slump. Reading was feeling like a chore and my boys were less engaged. I looked at our shelves and realized that we have very few non-fiction books. I added four new National Geographic books on predators, snakes, bugs and the moon and we were back in business.
- Read every day. We read at bedtime. Every night. During the day, I encourage the boys to grab a book and every second day I’ll just grab a book and start reading it out loud as they play around me. We aim for at least 15 minutes a day.
- Use the library but own books as well. We love the library. We go at least once a week and while the dudes grab movies that we rarely watch, I load up on books for them and me. We also own a lot of books. There are a lot of cheap ways to add to your personal library – value village, the Edmonton Public Library book sale, garage sales. If you are pregnant ask for a book shower – request that people help you start your child’s at-home library.
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