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.