6 Fun Ways to Raise a Reader

6 Fun Ways to Raise a Reader

Everyday tips to build your child’s reading skills and encourage a lifelong love of books.

By: Heather Chaet

I love reading. My happy place is a bookstore. I believe my spirit animal may be a bookworm. One of my earliest memories is climbing the large staircase at the local library in Wichita Falls, Texas, carrying in my small hands a pile of books I couldn’t wait to check out. On the second floor (where the books for adults were housed), I’d scan the aisles until I found my mom. Always in her hands? A stack twice as large as mine.

Since Mom was such a book lover, it’s not surprising that I became one too. Studies have shown that parents play a vital role in their kids’ reading education, one that is essential to getting kids’ into a literacy groove. Research from the U.S. Department of Education says if you read to your child every day starting from Day 1, she will have heard 900 hours of stories by the time she’s 5 years old. Pretty great for that brain development, eh?

Yet, our involvement in reading time doesn’t stop when they are old enough to take the school bus. According to a survey from Scholastic, a parent’s influence is even more vital once his or her kids are reading: 81 percent of children ages 5-8 stated that their mom is their go-to source of books.

So, building your kids’ lifelong love of reading is a permanent item on your to-do list? How are you supposed to do this every day -- along with the 531 other things you’re juggling? Here are six fun (and easy) ideas to boost the reading mojo in your abode.

1. Vary those reading materials and reading times. The key to getting a child to read? Provide enough interesting ways to hone those reading skills. Think beyond the traditional chapter book. Magazines, the sports section of the newspaper, and joke books are all fabulous alternatives to “regular” reading choices. If homework and ballet practice fill the evenings, try snuggling on the couch in the morning together or set a weekend family reading routine. Pajamas, pancakes, and pages, anyone?

2. Be a reading role model. This is one of those suggestions that we’ve heard over and over again, but it’s so hard to squeeze into our busy days. The best idea? Cozy up with your own book when your kids have their reading time. Try talking about your favorite books as a kid, giving books to friends as presents, and attending book and author events -- all of these illustrate your love of reading too.


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3. Focus on their interests. If your daughter is obsessed with cats, find books that have to do with those feline critters and get them into her little paws. Whether it’s insects or football, princesses or space, use your kids’ interests to motivate their reading.

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4. Organize a family book club. Pick a book (or a series) to read together. Use dinnertime to discuss your favorite characters or where you think the story will go. (One way to have enough books for you, Dad, and the whole crew is to hit the library, as well as those used bookstores.)

5. Jot in a journal. Part of raising a reader is helping your kid to really sharpen her reading comprehension. Start a family journal where everyone jots down thoughts about what he or she is reading. This could be what the main character looks like in the “movie in her head” or advice she would give the author about the plot. Getting kids to analyze what they read builds comprehension, an essential component of reading. Plus, they can see what questions and ideas you scribbled down (remember #2?).

6. Talk about characters and those fictional worlds outside of reading time. Help keep books on the brain by slipping in small conversations about reading throughout the day. When driving to soccer practice, ask your son which wizard from the books he would like on his team and why, or, as you do the grocery shopping, see who can think up the best new candy recipe for the famous chocolate factory.

What are you reading to your kids these days?

Heather Chaet documents her mini parenting successes, epic mommy fails, and everything in between for a plethora (love that word!) of publications and websites such as CafeMom, New York Family, and AdWeek. While her online persona is found at heatherchaet.com, Heather lives in New York City with her film director husband and one insanely curious, cat-obsessed daughter.

Image ©iStock.com/kali9

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