Some kids are just born readers. They will read anything they can get their hands on. My kids would sit at the breakfast table and read all the cereal boxes if they didn’t have a book nearby! My first learned to read at 3.5 years, she is now 30 and is a wealth of knowledge and still an avid learner.
And then there are the others. Those who don’t like to read, don’t want to be bothered with reading. They are not a lost cause. Even if a child is not a natural born reader, they can be taught to love reading, given the right opportunities. They still may never be considered a bookworm, but at least you can help expand their horizons and opportunities by instilling the love of reading.
All kids are different
One thing to remember. All children are different and will like different types of books. My son was an avid non-fiction reader during elementary and middle school. He read every DK book he could get his hands on. While he still loved non-fiction, in high school he switched over to classics, such as The Hobbit, the The Lord of the Rings, the Harry Potter series, as well as the The Chronicles of Narnia. At age 21, he still gets excited when a new Popular Science magazine arrives and he is always downloading something on his Kindle. If your boy loves sharks and will hardly sit still for a story, find shark books!
Note: I do not mean to imply that a reader is “better than” an non-reader. All kids/people are different and have differing levels of abilities and talents. So no bashing.
1. The most obvious one, of course, is to be a reader yourself. Let your kids see you with a book in hand, or by your bed, or in your bag while you wait. With the advent of e-readers and tablets, it may not be as obvious to our kids that we are actually reading, we must be sure to point out so on occasion.
2. While you want to encourage some well-rounded reading, when you are trying to build that love of reading, shower them with a topic they love. My youngest had difficulty reading, even at age 8. She loved anything to do with horses, so we started off with Pony Pals and read all those, and eventually moved up to Marguerite Henry and beyond.
3. Encourage books as gifts, but make suggestions of genre or author. I have 7, very soon to be 8, grandkids and I give them books as one of their gifts every Christmas.
4. Not that they always have to have a treat, but if you want to indulge your kids on your Walmart or Target trip every now and again, do so in the book section and not the toy or candy aisles.
5. For a really fun outing, head to a local bookstore (if you can find one, sadly). Teach them how to carefully remove books from the shelves and take them to the seating area, and then to return them to their shelf. If you are able, allow them to purchase a book as a souvenir of their outing.
6. Read to your kids from a very young age. When they are wiggly babies, forget trying to read the words, just talk about the pictures! Have board books they can play with. My kids had board books in their beds from 6 months on.
7. And keep on reading to them. Many parents stop reading aloud once their kids are able to read well by themselves. I continued to read to my kids when they were in middle school and high school. We did it all together as it was part of our homeschooling, but eventually became a way of life. We lived and loved characters, discussed life lessons, and looked forward to our reading time each day. Even though my kids are grown, we still will refer and make comments about characters from years past. I have listed just a few of our favorites below:
Little Britches: Father and I Were Ranchers and the entire series by Ralph Moody
Cheaper by the Dozen and sequel Belles on Their Toes
The Giver series by Lois Lowry
Running Out of Time and anything else by Margaret Peterson Haddix
The Wrinkle In Time series
8. For car trips, instead of DVDs or everyone listening to their own thing, listen to an audio book. You can either purchase on CD, check out from library , or download from companies such as Audible or Amazon. Again, we got the benefits of being engaged together in a story and really got to know the characters. Some of our favorites were from Focus on the Family’s Radio Theater, such as The Chronicles of Narnia, Les Miserables, Silas Marner, and The Hiding Place, to name a few.
9. Make books available all around your home. Have them in the bathroom by the toilet. We always had a bookcase beside our kitchen table and the kids were allowed to read at breakfast and lunch (but not dinner as we tried to eat as a family). Have a place for books in their rooms and in the family room.
10. During the summer, take part in your library’s summer reading program. They will be encouraged to read, will visit the library on a regular basis to check out more books, plus they can win prizes for their efforts. Many organizations have summer reading programs, some more organized than others. Below is a list of what I found. Feel free to share others in the comments.
- Amazon Summer Reading for Kids and Teens
- Scholastic Summer Challenge
- Collaborative Summer Library Program
- Barnes and Nobles Summer Reading
- Book It by Pizza Hut Summer Program
- Christian Book.com Summer reading
- Check local theme parks and amusement parks. Many have summer reading programs as well, offering free tickets for a certain amount of hours read.