Recently, Chris posted on How to Instill a Love of Books in your children. She’s a homeschooling mom to seven children, so she knows what she’s talking about. (If you didn’t teach your seven home-schooled kids to love reading, you’d NEVER get any quiet time, is my considered opinion.) So if you are interested in this topic, click over there are and see what she has to say.
Are you back? I have a couple of other things to add, gleaned from my days as a language arts teacher and reading tutor. But I’ll also summarize Chris’s points, in case you didn’t get a chance to read her post, with a few additions of my own.
Read to your child from as young an age as possible (i.e. as soon as he/she will sit still enough to look at the book). Right now Mr. Blue (13 months) enjoys only opening and closing books. That’s okay. He is getting used to them.
When kids are school age, read aloud as a family--one chapter a night, for example. Good books for this kind of thing are The Chronicles of Narnia, the Little House books, or Harry Potter.
Don’t get too serious when reading to little-bitty ones. Let them close the book, demand to read pages out of order, throw the book on the floor, chew on the book (this is why board books are good). You want to communicate that reading is fun, not a chore that you expect the child to SIT HERE AND LISTEN WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT. Trust me, later on as a preschooler, she will want you to read the entire book in order, and woe be unto you if you leave out any parts.
Take them to story time at the library or Barnes and Noble. It’s free entertainment! Plus you can get more books there.
For recommendations of good age-appropriate books, ask the children’s librarian.
Choose books your children enjoy. If your child is interested in a certain topic, like trains, find books about trains (duh, right?) I let Miss Pink pick her own books at the library, only occasionally asking her if she wants to try one of my favorites. Per her request, we are reading a lot about the planets in our solar system right now, and I’m learning some things, too. Unfortunately, this is one of the ways we lose boys as readers. They are MADE to read books in school, many of which are fiction books chosen by teachers (yawn, as far as the boys are concerned) and the things boys like to read are not valued. Which leads me to…
Encourage reading of ALL types of material, including magazines and comic books. Heck, if it’s the cereal box or the instruction manual for his bike, at least he’s reading.
Model good reading behavior. If your children see you reading, they’ll believe reading is something people do for fun.
Have as many books as possible around the house. Kids need to own their own books. Yes, books can be expensive. To save money, I buy books at Ross, at Wal-Mart, and through Scholastic Book Clubs (through schools, or probably online too.) My mom and brother buy books as presents for the kids (thank you!) I look at it as investing in their ability to get a college scholarship.
Do what my parents did: keep censorship to a minimum. The last time my mom told me what not to read, I was eight and I wanted to read Gone With the Wind. She let me read it when I was nine. Unless your kid is wanting to read Henry Miller, I say keep lots of good fiction around and let her explore. I knew when books were “too grownup” for me and dropped those books like a hot potato. Now, one caveat: my parents aren’t the kind of people to have rated-R books around (but I did encounter some in the library). I may have to be a little more creative in my bookshelf selection, since I do have some books that aren’t appropriate for those under sixteen.
Never, EVER punish your child by making them read. I can’t say it any better than Chris: “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.”
*Because I have been trying to post this for two days, so CLEARLY the Internet doesn't want me to tell you about books. (and did you get the literary reference? Didja, huh, didja? If you did, congratulations--we are literary nerds together forever.)