Today while I was at Barnes and Noble, enjoying a Sunday browse with my mini me, I saw a book that caught my eye and really inspired this post. I am sure this book could be incredibly helpful for some parents, but I honestly didn’t crack the cover. I sort of said to myself “thank God I don’t need this, but it has been hours since I was in the store and I am coming back to this title.
We have always been very thankful our daughter has always loved books. We have never forced her or even had to mildly encourage her to turn some pages. As a teacher I am aware that many children do not love to read. Maybe they have legitimate difficulties. Maybe they just don’t find joy on the page.
As a reader myself I can not relate to people, children or students that do not enjoy reading for pleasure. I myself was a rabid reader. The kid with a flashlight under the covers. I now have that child. I lovingly kid that if we allowed her to get every book she wanted we would live in a shack. She tells us it would be a shack made of books. Maybe we could be the fourth Little Pig house…do you think a house made of books would withstand the Big Bad Wolf???
I started to think what did we do to foster her love of reading?
We started reading to her when she was a baby. We started with cute little board books. She enjoyed books that were interactive and tactile.
We had books in the bathroom, in the car and in her tote bag. We made books more accessible than toys at times. This was not intentional. We are readers and we find value in books. We now share our fabulous finds. She manages our lending library.
We made trips to the book store and library very common. She must have showed everyone in our family her library card. For her birthday she is always pumped to get a Barnes and Noble gift card. She is also very blessed to have a great aunt, a former librarian, send her books.
Reading is a family affair.
We read to her at night. This seems like something most parents do. However we also made up stories and she in turn made up her own stories. They could have been totally original or variations on stories we had read.
We have always been positive and sort of braggy that she is a reader. Maybe that makes us annoying or obnoxious, but I’ll take a bit of criticism, because we don’t have to nag her to get summer reading completed.
We have made being a reader part of her identity. She is confident and proud that she is a reader. This confidence with reading has naturally helped school work and she has become confident with public speaking. Being able to confidently read aloud built up her self esteem and when asked to read to a crowd at an assembly or church, she has done a spectacular job.
We have allowed her to explore genres. Fairytales and books about families were popular when she was three. Then she moved on to popular characters like Pig and Pete the cat. Once she started school and grabbed on to simple chapter books she really took off as an independent reader.
We now encourage her to explore new authors and titles. She loves fantasy and mystery, but I also like her to dabble in stories about feelings, growing up, and classics. Getting her to branch out is getting easier….thankfully. We have a solid selection of magic and mystery.
We also watch “the movie”. We will watch popular titles that have gone from the page to the big screen. I love how she will comment and critique the two mediums. She loves to find the differences and share her opinions. She is finding the book is usually better than the movie.
She recently was out of her own books and was desperate, so she tried to read off my shelves. If you follow me, you know there aren’t many titles on my shelves a tween could read, so it was a stretch. She dipped her toe into the Twilight pond. Well, she was hooked. She read the entire series. She has asked for Midnight Sun to be put on her Christmas list.
We are incredibly lucky to have a child that finds joy from all sorts of books. I am sure that the book I saw today is well written and helpful. I am just very thankful that we are readers and have parented a reader. I hope she never loses her love of reading. I know when I was in college I did for a bit. When something becomes a chore or just an overwhelming necessity it is hard to find the joy, but thankfully once I was done reading textbooks and required readings, I found happiness in characters and plots again.
Here’s to a lifetime of reading for pleasure and entertainment. May our bank account always be able to support her healthy habit!