5 Easy Ways to Build Reading Enthusiasm


Most of us truly desire our children to enjoy reading.  We buy books for them that we think they will enjoy, we take them to the library, and we remind them to read.  But often something is missing.  There are many children who are less than enthusiastic about reading.  Reading sometimes seems like a chore, like something they have to do.  What can we do to help build reading enthusiasm?  For most children, it doesn’t just work to tell them to go and read.  We need to model a positive attitude towards reading and create a culture of reading in our homes.

How do we create a culture of reading?

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1. Read in front of them!

I am a reader.  I always have a book (or two or three) going.  I stack them on my nightstand and I read them.  But I realized recently that, most of the time, I don’t read in front of my kids.  Usually, I read at night, after my kids go to bed.  I would love to sit down and read during the day, but most days are too filled to take time to sit down and read.  The problem with this is simple:  My kids don’t often see me reading!

“Children read more when they see other people reading, both at school and at home.” Stephen Krashen, The Power of Reading, p. 84.

We should all try to make time to read, and we should try to read in front of our children!  Reading should not be a “school” thing, or a “have-to” thing, it should be an enjoyable thing that we all set aside time to do!  Mom, Dad, Sister, Brother, Grandpa, Grandma, everyone can read!   As a parent, make it a priority to always have a book you are reading.  Go to the library with your children and check out books for yourself, too!  Make daily reading a habit in your home.  If time allows, pause at some point during the day and encourage everyone (including you) to pick up a book and read for 15-20 minutes.  If that seems impossible during the week, try making it a weekend habit.  Savor reading together!

board books photoPhoto by PVignau

2. Read aloud to them!

Reading aloud is a powerful thing.  The benefits of reading aloud abound!  Reading aloud will help your child to learn to love reading.  Your child will learn to equate reading with a positive, happy experience.  It will help improve his vocabulary and language development.  To top it off, time spent reading aloud together is quality time spent with your children.    You will not regret the minutes you spend sharing a story together.  Take the time to read aloud with your kids, I highly recommend it.  Choose a book together and just start!  Click here to read more about the wonder of reading aloud!

“The time spent reading together provides clear evidence to a child of a parent’s love, care, and focused attention.” Mem Fox, Reading Magic, p. 20

3. Listen to audiobooks together!

Instead of popping a DVD in for a car trip, choose an audiobook that the whole family can enjoy and listen to it together.  Don’t know where to get an audiobook?  Check out audiobook CDs at the library or use Overdrive or Audible to download one to your device.  In newer cars, you can listen to a downloaded audiobook through the Bluetooth system and everyone can hear!   You don’t have to save this idea for roadtrips.  Even driving around town, you can have an on-going audiobook that you are listening to together.  (Audiobooks work in the house, too, but in the car you have a captive audience!)  In listening to an audiobook together, you will be creating a shared memory that your kids will not forget.  Read about more ways to use audiobooks in this post.

4. Talk about books!

Regularly talk about the books you read or listen to together.  Share ideas that you’ve learned from books you are reading to yourself with your family at the dinner table, and encourage your children to do the same.  As your kids get older, enjoy the opportunity to share book recommendations with each other.  My 11 year old son often recommends books to me that he’s really enjoyed.  After I read them, or sometimes while I am still reading them, he wants to talk about the book with me!  I love those conversations and look forward to many more.

5. Pack books!

Our family packs books.  When my boys were little, we always carried board books in the diaper bag to pull out for some instant entertainment.  But that didn’t stop for us once we stopped carrying the diaper bag!  I frequently carry books in my purse or tote bag.  We each pack books when we go on a trip.  We leave books in the car and the kids will read while we’re driving, or for the one who gets carsick, when we’re getting gas or stopped in traffic.  We take books to piano lessons, doctor’s appointments, and to sporting events—anytime we know we will have wait time, we try to have a book along with us.   If we make a habit out of turning to books when we have downtime, it becomes easier to find time for reading.

kids books photoPhoto by artifishall

Try implementing these strategies yourself, and see if enthusiasm for reading builds in your home.  It is all about attitude, and honestly, a lot of it is our attitude towards reading as parents.  If we model enthusiasm and enjoyment when we read in front of our kids, read aloud to them, listen to audiobooks together, talk about books, and pack books for our travels, we will be showing our children that reading is valuable, important, and worth setting aside time to do.  Hopefully they will pick up on the positive energy and attitude, and begin to feel that reading is worthwhile and something they want to spend time doing!

Happy Reading!

 

References:

Fox, Mem.  Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever.  Orlando, FL: Harcourt, 2008. Print.

Krashen, Stephen D.  The Power of Reading:  Insights from the Research.  Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited, 2004.  Print.