How to Get Your Kids Reading

Today I am going to give you my BEST tips to encourage your kids to read. Ready?

I love to read. You know that, right? I have been a book hound ever since I was a little kid. Long before I learned to read myself I loved being read to. And when I became a parent, I KNEW that a BIG priority for our family would be having a home where reading and books are a priority.

Along those lines, one of the first and only changes that we made to our little cottage here was to create a reading nook on the landing at the top of the stairs. The girl has her books and I have some of mine there. And I am thrilled to write a column called The Reading Nook over at Classic Play where I make book recommendations for your littles and bigger ones.

Wanting to encourage your kids to read is a bit of a non sequitor. I mean, who would ever be AGAINST kids reading? But like anything, just because we WANT to encourage something, we sometimes, more often than not, end up doing things that work against it. We adopt strategies that make it HARDER for our kids to learn to read or even learn to love learning to read.

So let's get started. Off the top of my head, here are my BEST tips for your kids, some do's and some don'ts.

1. DO read to your kids every day. 

One of the BEST predictors of reading success is NOT learning to read early, but in fact, being read to Even when you littles are the littlest, read to them daily. Doesn't have to be hours on end - even 15 minutes a day will be great. And when they are bigger and can read on their own, keep reading to them. Hana from A Happy Adventure brought this book to my attention where the dad read to his daughter UNTIL she went to college!

2. DO let your kids see you reading.

Books, magazines, newspapers. Have lots of reading material lying around. I have an e-reader but it looks too much like another computer-type item for my taste. I still like having paper books around.

Join a book club or start one with your friends. Let your kids hear you talk about the books you are reading.

Kids copy their parents - model regular reading for them. 

3. DO take them to the library or the bookshop regularly.

One of my strongest memories as a kid was going to the library with my family every weekend. We all took out books.

I like to own books. I like to see them on the shelf. And I like the girl to have an assortment of books at hand. We tend to go to the bookshop (used and new) more often than the library. Either way, make it a regular habit to be around books and learn to pick out the good ones.

4. DO use the expertise of your librarian or childrens' bookstore owner.

There are a LOT of horrible childrens' books out there. Not naming names but the ones that have tv characters are generally poorly written. USE the expertise of your librarian or the staff at your local childrens' bookstore.

Do your kids get those Scholastic flyers from school? Confused about which ones to pick? Alice, a children's librarian writes a Scholastic Decoder post every month in her column Shelf Candy where she picks her favourites for you.

5. DON'T confuse early reading with future reading success.

Kids learn to read at different ages somewhere between 5-7 years. Some a bit earlier. But do NOT worry if you have a later reader. Keep encouraging them. Talk to your child's teacher to suss out if there are any reading challenges but MOST of the time, it's just a developmental thing. It has nothing to do with intelligence or ability.

Okay, here's me on my soapbox, so excuse me for a moment. I believe that we have pushed down so much academic work to kindergarten and grade 1 that USED to be taught in grade 1 and 2 that some kids just.aren't.ready yet. And that's okay. Keep reading to them. Barring any diagnosable learning challenges, they will get there. 

6. DO make reading fun.

Turn a picture book into a script for a puppet show (The Little Red Hen and other fables are great for this). Make some paper puppets and put on a show with your kids. They'll be so excited that they won't even realise that they are reading the script.

Keep a reading log where you track daily 15 minute reading sessions for those already reading. Let them choose a prize at the dollar store after 10 or 20 daily sessions.

Start a childrens' book club like MJ did.

And there you have it. Are you are reader? What strategies have you used with your kids?