Today on the blog, my sister Megan is taking over to share the importance of raising young readers. Much of what I practice at home with Julian is what I have learned from Megan. I hope you’ll learn a little, and your babes will learn a lot! Enjoy!
There has never been a time in my life where I haven’t been surrounded by books. I was one of those kids who got in trouble for reading past her bedtime. I currently have eight separate apps on my phone that are devoted to reading or books. Some of my best friends have been fictional characters I met in between the pages. If my husband and I had a daughter I wanted to name her Hermione. (Luckily we had two sons so we avoided that argument.) My younger son’s name is Bennett, for goodness sake.
So it should be no surprise that as a mother and as an Early Head Start teacher fostering literacy is one of my passions. I was a teacher for almost ten years before I became a mother. Despite all my education and experience my years of teaching did not prepare me for the rigors of motherhood the way I thought it would. But one thing that carried over is my love of reading to children.
- Let them explore. From birth children should have access to books. The indestructible book series is perfect for infants as while not completely indestructible, they are at least baby proof. Letting the child look, taste, try to rip, throw, and carry these books is the first step in a child’s love of reading.
- On that note, invest in a lot of board books. Allow them to be destroyed. In our house we have gone through three copies of Goodnight Moon. I couldn’t be more proud. Books are meant to be experienced. Allow them free rein to figure out how books work. What the pages feel like under their fingers, what they taste like and yes, even what happened when they are ripped. Books can be replaced, nurturing a love of reading cannot.
- Be a reader. To raise a reader be a reader. Children will emulate what their parents do, if they see you reading, they will too.
- Literacy isn’t just books. Songs, finger plays, poems, nursery rhymes. These are all great ways to foster a love of literacy.
- When reading a familiar book to your child stop at the end of a sentence and see if they can finish it. You’d be surprised how quickly children can begin to recite a book from memory.
- Talk to your child, when they are babies narrate your actions. When they get older ask them questions, use real words not baby talk, expect that they will understand you and they will.
- Read every day. Make it part of your bedtime routines, make it part of your quiet time routine, have books in every room in the house and an empty lap for your child to sit in.
- Some people might not agree with this, but I think that electronic reading is fine. As long as it’s balanced with actual one on one time with a parent, there is nothing wrong with read along books on kindles, or our family’s favorite a Me-reader. (Are they really all that different than the Teddy Ruxpin of our childhoods?)
For the older children who are struggling with interest in reading I say this. In my opinion there is always something out there that would interest everyone and if you hate reading, you simply haven’t found the right thing to read. While my interest in books varies from Tess of the D’Urbervilles to the latest Jill Shalvis romance novel, I will be the first to tell you that I don’t like a lot of the genres of writing out there. You won’t find me reading nonfiction about the Korean War, or The Secret. And that is okay.
It is okay for your child not to love the book they are forced to read. While Lord of the Flies is not their style, Japanese Manga might be. They might hate Bridge to Terabithia but love reading Goosebumps. It doesn’t matter what your child is reading as long as they are reading.
My favorite books to read to my boys.
- On The Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman
- In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
- Chu’s Day by Neil Gaiman
- Mommy & Daddy Hugs and Kisses series by Anne Gutman
- Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling (I’ll admit this is my own fangirl interests leaking through here. So far my 5 year old and I have only read the first one, it’s a little more mature, so I’m pacing myself.)
- Horton Hatches a Who by Dr. Seuss (Our dog is named after the bird from this book)
- Night Night Little Pookie by Sandra Boynton
- No, David by David Shannon
- The How Do Dinosaurs series by Jane Yolen and Mark Tegue
- The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson
As one of my favorite children’s authors says “Read to your bunny often and someday your bunny will read to you.”
When she’s not working as an Early Head Start teacher, Megan Grable can be found on her couch writing too late into the night while wearing oversized headphones, listening to angry girl music and wrapped in a large blanket. She has two boys ages five and two that keep her very busy. Her current obsessions are rereading Mortal Instruments Series, Case/Lang/Viers’ new album, over the knee boots, and Michelle Dockery on Good Behavior.