How to Raise a Child to be a Reader

Have you seen Thirteen Ways to Raise a Non-Reader? I have it taped to my office door at work, and I sometimes print out a copy and pass it along to colleagues and students. It’s a tongue-in-cheek look at what you can do to raise a child who doesn’t love to read. The steps are simple, the results sad. I can’t imagine what my childhood would have been like without books, and little gives me more pleasure than seeing my children immersed in a book. When my students ask me about how to improve their writing, I always give them the same advice: read, read, and read.┬áBut what about how to raise a reader?

Here are some easy things you can do:

Don’t wait until your child is “old enough” to read to him. Start early, from the day he is born. Hearing the sound of a parent’s voice is soothing and helps organize a newborn’s brand new senses from Day One.

Fill the corners of your baby’s room with baskets of chunky, baby-friendly board books. Let her chew on the books, drool on the books, play with the books. Books should become friendly, favorite objects from an early age, long before she learns how wonderful it is to open one up and hear the story that’s inside.

Read to your child when she’s on your lap. If she learns to associate reading with warm snuggles and hugs, she will be hooked forever.

As baby gets older, introduce him to interactive books: pop-ups and peek-a-boo books are a wonderful way to engage a child’s interest and set-up a life-long love of books.

Set a good example and read in front of your children–often. Let them see how lost you can get in a good mystery novel, and how hard it is to tear yourself away from the story. This is how to raise a reader: by teaching them that you are one!

Take your child to the library, as soon as you can. If your child can’t walk yet, plop him on the floor in front of a pile of books. Sit with him, and read the books he pulls from the shelves.

Don’t make reading become homework and a chore. I truly dislike those reading logs that schools give out, and the time limits that some teachers impose on reading at home. Reading should be a pleasure, and something fun.

Fill your house with books. A house without books is a sad and flat place; a house filled with books is a house filled with magic.

This is how to raise a reader.

 

 

Alissa (Aliki) McElreath is a writer, teacher, editor, mama to two kids, vegan food eater, and book lover. She lives in North Carolina, but always secretly (and not so secretly) claims New York as home.
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