I have always loved books, and it has always been a dream of mine to help parents learn to teach kids to read at home, like I've done with my girls.
As a child, reading was the easiest way to discover new worlds. I will never forget how excited I was when I read my first book, Green Eggs and Ham. (Was anyone’s first book NOT a Dr. Seuss?) Growing up before cell phones, I often had a book to keep me company on a long car trip (if I wasn’t carsick) or after a test was finished. I LOVED books and the library was a magical place.
When Marc and I first started dating, he was actually a writer and loved books as much as me. In fact, for our first wedding anniversary, I bought him a limited edition of Catcher In the Rye, his favorite book of all time. (I may or may not have received a shoe mat for that anniversary, but who’s keeping track??)
When our girls were born, it was just a natural thing for us to introduce them to books as early as we could. I remember Marc reading to Chloe before she was even born, just so she would hear his voice. As little girls, we read them stories every night at bedtime that taught them new things or took them into different worlds. And we loved the few minutes of quiet time with them.
It makes me sad when I hear kids and teenagers say that they “hate” to read. I feel like they are missing out on something that has brought so much happiness to our lives. There may not be a surefire way to guarantee your kids will love to read, but here are a few ways how to encourage reading habits and teach kids to read at home.
- Read to them before they are born. I know it sounds odd, but there is something special about letting your babe hear your voice in more than just conversation.
- Start a library for them. Have all of the guests at your baby shower bring their favorite children’s book instead of a card. Every birthday and Christmas, Marc buys Chloé and Clara a book and he writes them a message inside that relates to something happening in their lives that year. I love that they will have these for their entire lives.
- Take family trips to the library. When Chloe was little, we made it a point to go to the local library and let her choose books for the week. If she didn’t love them, she didn’t have to read them. But most of the time, she found new books and series that she loved. And those trips to the library are some of her favorite childhood memories. Plus, it’s FREE. We were young and broke and needed to save every penny we could. I had dance bills to pay.
- Read before bed. I know this is the most obvious one, but it’s so effective. Even now that Clara is old enough to read on her own, I still will read to her a chapter from a special book. We LOVE this and sometimes a certain teenager will even join in to listen. But she’s not “really listening”, she’s just “saying goodnight.”
- Go to bookstores' story hour. Often times, the large book retailers will have special events in-store for children. Go! Grab a coffee and let your children participate. Plus, built-in babysitter for an hour! Hell yea!
- Read a book and then see the movie. Sooooo many huge movies are based on books. Have your kids read the books and then plan a family movie night to watch the movie and talk about the differences between the books and the film. Ask which they liked better. I've also collected a list of the best chick flicks of all time for you here.
- If you are planning a family trip, see if there are any books about the location. Read them before you go. You will be surprised how excited they will be to share facts that they remember during the trip. I also do this and torture my family with facts so they like to stop me from talking because they already know them.
- Tell you kids about books that impacted you at their age. I have vivid memories of so many books as a child and my girls LOVE to think of me at their age. Then, they want to read the same books so we can #twin. Hello, Nancy Drew? Babysitter’s Club? Sweet Valley High? Maybe we need a Retro Book Club??
- Have them write down words they don’t understand. Help them research and figure out the meanings. Not only will their vocabularies grow, but they may also learn how to use a dictionary. Wha? Do those still exist?
- Have a family book club. Choose a book that everyone can read, or even just the kids. Have the kids ask each other questions. Ask them if they know anyone like the characters or if they have experienced anything similar to the plot. There are so many great book clubs online that have thought starter questions (Chloe’s Book Club, anyone??)
I hope this list gave you some ways how to encourage reading habits. It is one of my FAVORITE things about my girls and I feel like that I have given them the BEST lifelong gift. What did I miss? Do you have ideas? Do you need a great list of books to inspire you? Check out these suggestions and share them, too!
Thanks for reading and sharing!