Raising a Reader
This is a summarized version of an article I wrote for subscribers to my weekly blog newsletter. When you subscribe on the front page of the blog, you are directed to a link where you can download an article and a printable poster/school newsletter article insert.
As a parent I make many mistakes daily but I try my best, and high on my list of priorities is raising children who don’t just read but are readers. Most children will eventually grasp the mechanics of reading but developing a lifelong love of reading takes more than a phonics lesson or twenty. I could spout facts and figures about how reading = school achievement and perhaps I will pop some of those figures on my blog at a later date. But for me, wanting my children to be readers is about far more than wanting them to do well educationally.
I want my children to experience the joy that is escaping from reality into a whole other world, place and/or time. I want them to fall in love with book characters, as I did with Eeorye (I like a pessimist) and Austen’s Emma, and have these characters live with them forever. From the safety of their bedroom, I want my children to discover the struggles and joys and different life experiences of others and develop empathy, compassion and vast imaginations.
So these are my summarized thoughts on ‘raising a reader’.
Top 10 Tips for Raising a Reader
- Build habits. Reading before bedtime is an awesome habit to encourage! You can discover more about bedtime reading here. Night time reading is relaxing and a warm bedside lamp and table on which to place their books helps children to connect reading with positive and calming experiences.
- Read with your children no matter their age. Parents so often think once their child can read independently their job is done. I have a Year Six and Seven Parent/Child bookclub where a parent and their 11-12 year old child read together. Reading with your children is a time of being close and a time to engage in some book dialogue – “What do you think might happen next?”, “ Why did Little Cloud feel so sad?” and “My favourite part was when… what was yours?”. Independent reading is great, but so is reading with a loved adult.
- Treasure books. Show them your favourite childhood books, display books in your house, give books as gifts and show your children how to care for books
- Visit the library. Libraries are magical and wonderful places. All those books to choose from! All that expert help in the form of a hopefully smiling librarian! All those free library run activities and clubs to sign up for! (I really love being a librarian and spending my days in a library!)
- Buy quality books. Visit bookstores, or hunt for second hand books at op shops, big book events (in Australia we have the Lifeline Bookfair) or buy online. Second hand excellent books are far better than cheap and poorly produced new books that will be read once and not enjoyed.
- Be a role model. Make sure your children see that you read for pleasure and you find time to read everywhere and anywhere.
- Give books as gifts – and inscribe them!
- Talk about characters . Do you think Hush (from Possum Magic) ever visited the trees in our garden while she was on her hunt with Grandma Poss? “I think that you and Kate from ‘Let’s Get a Pup’ would get on so well – you both like dogs at the end of your bed!”. Excite their imaginations.
- Talk about their book choices. Don’t scoff at their reading choices. There is a time and place for all books; it’s a bit like food – sometimes we want junk food books and sometimes we want healthy food/brain filling books.
- Read books in a series or by the same author. Children are never too young to start on Lucy Cousins (Maisy books) or the ever popular Miffy books by Dick Bruno.
For more on raising a reader download the article and poster in the newsletter signup.Booktopia. You can also compare prices on Fishpond and Bookworld for Australian purchases.If you live in the US or would prefer to use Amazon click here. If you live in the UK or would prefer to use Book Depository click here. Purchases clicked through from the Children’s Books Daily site result in a small commission. Commission is used in part to maintain Children’s Books Daily and to support community groups which connect children with books.