Parents are inundated with reasons their children should love books. If you are a parent who does love books, it can be intimidating to consider the world our kids live in. The demands on the time of children born after 2000 are immense. They have to worry about fitting in regular playing, play date playing, maybe some outside time, story time at school or at home, I-pad time and time to squeeze in some cartoons from Netflix! These are not the five-year-olds we once were, for sure.
Kindles, Nooks and other e-readers are great inventions and are quickly changing the publishing world. Still, most parents are nostalgic about “real” books and want to instill a love of them in their children. The easiest, most effective way to do this is to read to your young children at least once a day. The more time you spend reading to or with your children, the more they will associate the activity with positive feelings. Read what they want, not what you think they should be reading. If your three-year-old picks out a cookbook for his bedtime story, go ahead and read a few recipes and talk about the pictures. It’s no better or worse than “Green Eggs and Ham.”
If you want to raise readers, make a bookshelf (at least one) a fixture in their bedroom from the day they are born. Give them access to books from the youngest age. Don’t fret if they are using books as building blocks or setting them up as a fence around their toy unicorns. Books should feel like a limb to your children, something that’s always there and that can be used to its limits!
Other ideas for building willing readers:
• Have at least one family meal where everyone is allowed to read through the meal.
• Make visiting the library a weekly/bi-weekly trip. Let your child pick his own books.
• Listen to audio books in the car while you run errands. If you can find a book to go along with the audio, give that to your child while you drive around.
• Let your child see you and your partner reading BEFORE you opt to turn on the TV.
• Make books a special part of birthday and other holiday gift giving.
Helping your child learn to love “real” books is helping to develop his attention span and his appreciation for quiet, ad-less ways to escape into another world. Do your best to make reading a “real” part of all of your lives. Forced, fun-time reading will always backfire as will making your child go read in another room while you watch television or play on Facebook. Model the behavior you want to see in your child. Before you know it, he’ll be recommending books to you!