You frequently write about books and reading with your children. I am the mother of two children, a baby and a 2 yr old. While I do read occasionally to my 2 year old, I wonder how I can instill a lifetime love of reading in them. How do I find good books? Any wise words of advice?
I know people who tell me that they don’t read. Ever. Not because they can’t, but because they don’t want to. They don’t enjoy reading. I can’t even understand this. It would be like someone saying they don’t like rainbows or candy or shoes on sale.
I have to think that somewhere along the way they were “taught” that reading isn’t fun. That it is a chore. Something that isn’t done once you leave the academic world behind.
I think the fact that you are already reading to your two year old is a great place to start. See if your local library has an informal story time that you can attend. Barnes and Noble also has weekly story times for preschool aged children. They are free to attend, though you will probably end up leaving with a few new books under your arm. Click on the link to locate the participating store near you.
I think we all know the classics: Pat the Bunny, Good Night Moon, and Guess How Much I Love You. Of course all the books by Dr. Seuss and Maurice Sendak. I still have my Little Bear books from when I was a child, before it was bastardized into a Nikelodeon cartoon. Classic books stand the test of time.
But what about newer books? Ones that we might not be familiar with. Your local librarian can be a good resource as can asking some of your peers who have children. They will probably have read their children’s favorite books so many times that they can recite them word for word as well as give you the title and author.
However, over the past few years I have a few resources that I love and refer to often. Is your child very interested in a particular topic– trains, dinosaurs, knights– you can find books on these topics appropriate for their ages. A few years ago my son was fascinated by the Titanic. I think we have successfully read every single children’s book on the subject out there, including books about icebergs, ship building, and even penguins. Why? Because penguins live where there are icebergs of course!
This is a great resource. It lists books for various ages and give a brief summary. It’s like a annotated book list.
This book follows the Core Knowledge curriculum and offers books to read based on what your child is probably doing subject wise for each grade. If you have ever read the What Your ____ Grader Needs to Know, you will likely appreciate this book. It is an add-on of sorts to that series, answering the question, “What other good books are there on these topics?” I imagine that it would be a good supplemental resource for children who are attending public schools, as many public schools are now following the Core Curriculum.
I just found this book at my local library last week and it is one I immediately added to my wishlist. It is more than just a list of books. At 500 hefty pages, it has hundreds of ideas for activities, anecdotes, ideas for encouraging reluctant readers, and on and on. The description of the book on amazon calls it an “exuberant treasure trove” and I am hard pressed to find any better words to describe this massive volume.
The Classical Christian Education Support Group has a web page listing 1000 Good Books. Good books being defined as those which have a timeless appeal. They are divided up by age/grade level. It is by no means an exhaustive list, but a wonderful resource nonetheless.
But what is it that these books all have in common? How do you encourage your children to become readers?
1) Read out loud to them daily from the time they are babies until they will no longer listen to you. My 12.5 yr old will still listen to me read stories out loud. Pick an exciting novel and read a chapter every night before bedtime. Or in my house, we read our chapter books after lunch when my youngest takes a nap. Pick a time of day that works for you and doesn’t make reading become a chore.
2) Make reading fun. Chose books to read that your children enjoy. Talk about the stories you are reading during other points of the day. “What do you think is going to happen in the story?” or “I can’t wait to see what that character is going to do about …”
3) Model good behavior. If your children see you reading for pleasure, they will think that reading is something people do for fun.
4) Set up a reading corner in your house. Buy or build some bookcases. Throw down a little area rug and a bunch of large pillows for laying on. Make it a place where your child feels comfortable and wants to spend time. Kids love little nooks that belong to just them.
5) Never, EVER punish your child by forcing them to read. For the love of all things holy do not do this. Or I will have to come over and beat you with a book or two.
And just one more book before I end this post. One for you.
This is a fabulous book for teens and grown-ups. I refer to it when I feel like reading a one of those books I “should” have read a long time ago but have somehow escaped me. It gives tips on reading some of the world’s greatest books in all the major genres. If you feel like your education was somehow lacking, then this is the book for you.