Like many adults, I found myself worried that I would be incapable of raising a child to be as voracious a reader as I am. It’s easy for an old person to enjoy the solitude, reflection, and learning that naturally comes with books, but many children don’t yet appreciate the wonders of books. Raising your children to read and to read often is no small feat, and many parents are giving up after encountering even slight pushbacks.
Raising your children to love reading isn’t impossible, it just takes patience. Here’s how I raised my kid to read, and why I think it’s so important that other parents do the same.
You can’t start early enough
If there’s one lesson you’ll take home today, let it be that you can’t start early enough when it comes to getting your children hooked on reading. Even before your children can read books or short sentences themselves, you need to be reading to them and familiarizing them with the concepts of the textual communication and the importance of language. This may sound complicated, but it’s as simple as reading your child a bedtime story as often as possible.
Bedtime stories aren’t just important because they help many children fall asleep, but also because they’re a crucial part of the overall development process. Reading to your children as they drift off to sleep helps their brains develop and makes them comfortable around books and the written word in general. Of the many benefits derived from bedtime stories, the best of all is that it helps your child build the foundations of what will become incredibly strong literary skills. I also found that reading my kids bedtime stories helped us bond and spend time together at a time when I struggled to interact with them thanks to a heavy workload.
Raising your kids to read requires more than a reliance on bedtime stories, however. As your children develop past the early stages of childhood and become academically developed, you should be encouraging them to read on their own, too. This is a premium opportunity to get your kid a library card; of all the gifts I’ve ever given to my daughter, I can think of few that she’s cherished and utilized as much as her local library card. These gifts, which essentially cost you nothing to give, open up a world of literary opportunity to your children and help them meet intelligent new people all the while.
Library cards teach children responsibility, and also show them that they can take their fates into their own hands by going out into the world to discover challenging new things. You should consider carpooling and taking other kids to the library when you bring your child, too, as I’ve found this is a great way to win brownie points with other parents while also getting to know the kids your son or daughter is hanging around with.
Understand that it won’t be easy
Many parents who are voracious readers themselves expect their kids to pick up books with the same hungry appetite that they once had. Not everyone is alike, however, and even your children may differ from you when it comes to literary taste. It’s vital for parents to understand that everyone sees literacy in a different light, and for some people reading is simply a more important and cherished hobby and skill than it is for others. I successfully raised my children as readers in a large part because I didn’t expect them to be bookworms who could never put a story down, and taught them the importance of progressing at your own pace.
It’s imperative to never try and foist your favorite works on your children before their ready, or to try and dominate them into reading when they despite it. To be clear, it’s every parent’s responsibility to teach their children strong literacy skills, and sometimes you’ll have to force your kid to read through their homework assignment or to rework a grammar exercise. Knowing when you need to step up as a parent and force them to the necessary work for development and understanding when it’s time to step back and let them take a break is a crucial part of successfully raising your children to be voracious readers, however.
Sometimes, you may need some third-party help, and that’s perfectly okay. Not every parent was made to be a teacher, and knowing how to approach finding a reading tutor is valuable information every mom and dad should know. The most important lesson I learned when teaching my kids to read is that pushing them in over their heads is a great way to push them away from reading forever. Take your time, work together with them, and show them how much you appreciate reading yourself, and you’ll find yourself raising some brainy bookworms in no time.