Raising a Reader
Raising a Reader
A LOVE of reading, that most important factor in becoming a lifelong reader, begins at home with powerful children’s books and a house full of words.
Award winning author and vocal read-aloud advocate, author Mem Fox states; ‘The foundations of learning to read are set down from the moment a child first hears the sounds of people talking, the tunes of songs, the rhythms and repetitions of rhymes and stories. Children who have not been regularly talked to, sung to or read aloud to from birth find life at school much more burdensome than they otherwise might. In particular, learning to read becomes a major stumbling block rather than a surprising delight’ (Reading Magic, p.13)
Reading aloud from birth, right through until to teen years (if they’ll let you!), and enjoying this reading and bonding time with your child, is crucial in raising and sustaining a reader. Less emphasis on the mechanics of reading, and more attention on instilling and modeling a love of reading is the number one starting point in raising readers. Reading to children should be about fun, the magic of story and the love of gorgeous books. I love ‘The Children Who Loved Books’ and ‘The Boy on the Page’ by Peter Carnavas for the sheer darned love of books and words! More on Peter Carnavas here.
We all lead busy, chaotic lives. I could write ten thousand words and then some, on the importance of reading to children. But in the interests of not adding to stress levels and paper chaos, here are my top ten tips for ‘Raising a Reader’ – with links to further reading if you’re so inclined.
Top Ten Tips for Raising a Reader
- Read aloud with passion.
Read aloud from birth and enjoy it! Children need to hear fluent reading, thousands of different words and the rhyme and rhythm of text. Read aloud together even when your child is a fluent reader – at that stage you can take it in turns.
- Model a love of reading.
Children imitate their parents; it’s a fact of life. If adults in the house read, children know it is valued. Reading is not something that will magically happen at school…reading begins at home.
- Location, location, location.
Create spaces to read and enjoy words at home; reading nooks, reading caves and tents, display books with pride…create a print rich environment. For more on creating a print rich environment see here.
- Bring books to life.
Books are created by amazingly talented authors and illustrators. Go to book launches, sign up to your local library newsletter and find out about author events. Visit your local literary festival. Check out author and illustrator interviews such as all the ‘Book People’ posts here. For more reasons to go to book launches see here.
- Mix it up.
Read books in all their forms; read paper books, read books online, download book apps, listen to audio books in the car. Books come in so many shapes, sizes, and technologies nowadays…embrace this. For more reasons to listen to audio books see here.
- Love Libraries.
Make a big deal out of signing up for your child’s library card. Visit and borrow from your local library regularly. Get to know your school’s teacher librarian and pick their brains for book recommendations. Join in at storytime at your local library. Volunteer at your child’s school library.
- Create the need to read.
Cooking and craft activities are great for helping children develop the desire to read, for them to see why it’s great to be able to read. Encourage your child to read a recipe with you, or read the steps in a craft activity. There are heaps of recipes and craft activities with printable instructions to read on the blog…just use the search box.
- Reading routines rock.
Make reading a ritual…one that suits your life. It might be that bedtime reading always happens; it might be that you read a chapter from a book after dinner, or breakfast. Make it part of your daily life, like brushing your teeth. For why bedtime reading ROCKS see here.
- Value books.
Buy books as gifts, display books and book art with pride. Teach your children to treasure books and look after them. I have, oh, about 600 or 700 hundred book gift selections on the blog…just search by age or subject.
- It’s not about you.
As much as you may not want to read that toilet humour book again, your child may want to. Reading and re-reading are part of loving reading. Reading what you consider trash might be turning your child into a lifelong reader. So put aside the book you want your child to read, you can come back to that one later…maybe. For more on the importance of reading humour see here.
I think alongside trying to teach kids to treasure books, it’s important to not be precious with them. I want my boy to know the value of books is in the stories they contain, not necessarily the material object (although I’m a fan of the object myself). I don’t really mind if he wants to build a stack of books to sit on, and then another to use as a castle or if he wants to zoom his cars across his pop-up book and park them next to the paper house – he’s engaging himself in the story with his imagination and his body and I like that a lot. We have a great book called ‘Books Always Everywhere’ (Blatt/Missinni) that illustrates this really sweetly. Books are for reading… but they’re also toys and gifts and moments to share and whole worlds.
I’ve found that by not getting precious about the objects themselves but setting a higher premium on the words, the stories, Dear Boy hasn’t ripped a single one of his books (or mine); he hasn’t coloured them in or tried to shove them into the toilet. Which is a win in my book.
Couldn’t agree MORE! We have books in every single room, the cubbyhouse and the car and the books often used to physically create a roof for a house of even just to stand on to reach something else! I LOVE ‘Books Always Everywhere’…start the year reading that one to Kindy each year. I also love the Peter Carnavas one ‘The Children Who Loved Books’…LOOK AT THAT COVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! https://childrensbooksdaily.com/book-people-peter-carnavas/
Such great tips! I remember reading Reading Magic when I was pregnant with my first child over 10 years ago – and it has shaped the way I have read to all three of my kids. I don’t think there are many gifts greater than a love of reading for us to pass on to our kids. Thanks for the reminder.
OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH Possum Magic is SUCH a goodie! And boy oh boy has it stood the test of time!
I hope my little guy continues to love reading.
He is already starting to found out words and I can’t wait for him to be able to curl up with a book on his own…because I know how much pleasure that action always brings me.
Love it! We never had books at home when I was a kid so I’ve made extra sure we have TONNES of them and spend a lot of time reading them together.
I’m so sorry to hear you you didn’t have books around as a child but I am SO HAPPY to hear that you have surrounded your own children with words and pages and pictures. Makes a librarians heart sing…cause ALL children should have books. x
I have been doing a bit of reading on your blog in my research on one of my unit’s “Industry knowledge” for my Diploma of Library and Information Services. One of the areas I am researching is library and literature promotion for a task where I am sourcing industry information on a key area of the library industry.
I have found this blog post and your insightful tips to be very helpful and have referenced it for one of my tasks. I am excited for when I get to a unit down the track “Promote literature and reading” – an area where I think you quite specialise in with your blog!
Thank you for a great blog that has developed my desire to further my future into Librarianship.
Rochelle you have MADE MY DAY! You lovely lady! I’m SO pleased when I hear of people entering the profession who are passionate and excited – it’s what we NEED! Don’t even GET ME STARTED on us librarians needing to promote ourselves and our services more! Keep in touch!