How to Raise a Reader: Children Who Love to Read

As I have mentioned before, I love to read. Recently, however, I have not been reading as much as usual but I still read quite a bit.

I have written about sites that will help you determine what book to read next, the books I read the first 6 months of this year, and how to not encourage children to read.

They say that if you enjoy reading and if you read to your children, it is more likely that they will become readers too. I don’t think this is the only factor as my brothers and I grew up in the same environment and I have always enjoyed reading much more than they do. Although, one of them reads much more now that he is getting older. I think that if reading is difficult for the individual or if they are assigned books in school that suck the joy out of reading that kids will be less inclined to enjoy it.

But, still, environment is an important factor. Our house is stuffed full of books, I am more inclined to purchase a book than a toy and my daughter rarely sees me watch television. Usually when I watch it, I am watching something with her. And, I think this has made a difference.

Recently she told me that she wants to be a writer and an illustrator when she grows up because I love books and because her father loves art. And she is spending more time reading – sometimes she will start reading as soon as she gets up and I actually have to tell her that she can’t read until she finishes getting ready for school. This school year she is supposed to read 30 mins a day Mon thru Fri – she easily surpasses that.

This photo was taken on the subway in New York City when we went to visit a friend and her two children. Every time we took a bus or subway the kids were engrossed in their books. (and the rest of the time were running around like all other children.)

One thing I have learned is that when children are learning to enjoy books that it doesn’t matter what they are reading as much as the fact that they are reading. If they would rather read Goosebumps or graphic novels rather than more “serious” literature like Where the Red Fern Grows, then so be it. I’ve had parents say in a snotty tone, “she’s reading comic books”. And while I want to say, “stuff it” I just say yes with the “you are so annoying” look on my face.

So, hopefully my influence with books and reading has been a good one. She loves to read and is constantly asking to go to the library to get books on topics in which she is currently interested. One week it might be gems and minerals, the next is Vampires (it’s almost impossible to find a non-fiction book about vampires that is appropriate for young children), and the week after that the topic is Ancient Egypt.

And I couldn’t be happier. Sometimes when we are both worn out we sit on the couch and read our own books. And always at bedtime we read another chapter of the book we are working through together. Right now, it’s Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos.

photo credit: Carlos Porto

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  1. says

    We’re hoping to instill our love of reading in out daughter. Right now I build a new bookshelf every year to try and get our books organized again. It’s never enough, we always have books in piles beside the bed and in the cupboards. We haven’t had cable in 10 years, we have lots of movies but there moving into boxes in the next few months.

    • says

      Hi Curtis – I have the same problem. No matter how many book shelves I get, it’s never enough. I rarely buy new books though – most of them come from library books sales and flea markets. If a book is $1 or less, I can’t resist ;-)

      I don’t have cable either but I do use Netflix for movies and have watched some shows on their Watch Instantly.

  2. says

    I only started reading when I was already in high school. Now I know what I missed. I kept thinking what if I started earlier? It would have been awesome…

  3. says

    Environment is definitely important – if you have books around, your kids will have little choice but to read. If you have the TV turned on, and watching violent TV shows… your kids will grow up with who knows what type of influence?

    • says

      Hi Henway – That is usually the case. But my brothers and I grew up in the same environment and they don’t read like I do. My youngest one doesn’t really read at all. But, he does play guitar so maybe his reading time is spent on music.

  4. says

    Hi Kim,
    My kids read many books because we didn’t allowed any TV before 19.00, so when they said; they didn’t have anything to do, gave I them just a tips; relax and read something easy. Today do the love books.

    • says

      Hi Marbella – I rarely allow her to watch anything on a school night – sometimes if everything is done she can watch one show before bed but we prefer to spend the extra time reading. On the weekends we usually watch a movie together.

  5. says

    Hi Kim – My mother used to quote this line to us all the time: “Richer than I you can never be, as I had a mother who read to me.” One of the best gifts any parent can give is to instill a love and appreciation for reading and books. I can tell how thrilled you are that your daughter is also a reader, and I think you’re exactly right to put critics of her choices in their place.

    • says

      Hi Betsy – One of my earliest vivid memories is my Mom teaching me to read and me finally understanding it. I was 4 and my brother was screaming in the background – my Mother ignored him while I was having the breakthrough moment ;-)

      I also remember her reading Charlotte’s Web to me when I was 8 – to this day I can recall how hard I cried when Charlotte died.

      Other Moms have been working my last nerve lately – people need to mind their own business ;-)

  6. says

    I agree. One of my kids love classics, the other reads “junk” – but she reads a lot. I’m pleased with that. I do try to introduce “better” literature once in a while, but I don’t try to force the issue.

    • says

      Hi Vered – I firmly believe that the one who reads “junk” will remain a reader and move on to other things when she’s ready. I think the reading, even it’s junk reading, is the important thing.

  7. says

    Excellent post. It seems that reading the written word is losing favor with the younger generations. Too many electronic gee-whiz gadgets to play with. It’s great to see parents nurturing a love of reading in their kids. Thank you for promoting that thought.

    • says

      Hi Allan,

      I guess there are more distractions now. I don’t think gadgets are a bad thing if they are used in moderation. My daughter isn’t really interested in them – she would rather read or draw.

  8. says

    I agree completely. If kids want to read Goosebumps, let them. It’s better than playing Halo Reach on Xbox. I used to read Matt Christopher books. My mother didn’t like it, but it got me reading!

  9. says

    I hate reading! LOL I hated it so much since I was a kid. Reading has been a long serious argument with my dad until I took college! Just imagine my book is placed on top of my face because I’m sleeping already. You’re right, it’s a good example for the kids to see their parents or other people who read most of the time. This attitude can influence them in the long run.

      • says

        Definitely! I ended up reading my books only before I need to take my quizzes or exams! lol Also, being attentive in class discussions is a great help for me. In that way, it can lessen my time to read lots of chapter in the books.

  10. says

    …environment is an important factor. Our house is stuffed full of books…

    You buy books and, once read, keep them there as trophies? You never read the same book more than twice in the same year? Or, are you referring to Dr. Seuss-like picture books that can be read aloud inside of 10 minutes?

    Think about why you keep books. I recently reduced my clutter of books to a manageable amount of 100 or so titles. I thought I’d miss them. I don’t. I gave them away to the library for their semi-annual book sale.

    • says

      Hi Ari – You are assuming that our books have been read. Most of the ones we have are unread except for some collections – elephants, fairy tales and reference books. The rest we giveaway or bring to the used books store once are done with them. My daughter keeps some of her favorites too – children tend to read their favorites more than once – I know I did.

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