I am far from a perfect parent . . . there are many areas of motherhood where I’m not exactly meeting my goals. I would say I’m pulling a strong B in terms of getting the kids to school on time. Home-cooked meals? Probably a C-. Taking the time to get on the floor and play with my kids? Ouch. I’m probably getting a failing grade there.
However, there is one area of parenting where I feel like I am doing alright. in fact, I might even give myself an A+. And it’s an area that I feel particularly proud of, being a book lover myself. I have always wanted my children to love books as much as I do. And I am proud to say, I have four kids who absolutely love to read.
Read with your kids.
I know this is an obvious one, but if it's cliché, it's only because it's true. When you read with children, it's truly does stoke a love for reading. Starting early is key, and there are great books for every developmental stage, even infants. Plus, reading is a great together time, since you are in close physical contact with your child as you read with them on your lap.
Model reading your own books.
Children are little sponges, and they really do take after the habits that they observe us in. It's kids see that we enjoy reading books, they are more likely to engage in the behavior themselves.
Let your kids see you love to read.
This can be a challenge for me, because I tend to read after the kids have gone to bed. It's tempting to hop on my phone or on the computer during the small spurts of time that I get to myself while the children are still awake. However, I have tried to get into the habit of taking a book along with with me to play dates, and when I pick up the kids, so that they can see that I enjoy reading. Hopefully it will inspire them to enjoy it as well.
Make reading time special.
With our eldest, we found than allowing him to stay at 15 minutes later than his siblings once he learns to read, was a HUGE motivator for him to continue reading. Allowing kids to stay up a little bit later to read makes reading a special thing.
Let book-reading be a treat.
Now that most of my children are reading, we allow all of them to have book lights in their room, and they are allowed to stay up as late as they want if they're reading. Sure, it may not be the best strategy for getting sleep, but we accommodate for that by putting them to bed a little bit early. It gives me great pleasure to hear my kids clicking off the reading light an hour after laying down, because I know that they have been enjoying a good book.
Have books readily available.
In our home, we have books in every room. Each child has a bookshelf in the room, and also each child has a bin or space for books right next to their bed, along with a reading light. I thought I would show how we do this in each room. In Kembe's room, his books are usually stuck along the side of the bed. In our family, books are an anytime thing. We want the kids to feel free to read all the time. It even trumps bedtime. This is Jafta's bed - unedited. He's my late-night reader, and I love that his bedside is full of books.
And my last tip: Buy them books they like.
I know it's tempting to buy more sophisticated books for your children, especially if you are a bibliophile yourself. When my kids were small, I invested in many of the classics for my kids. And while I would love to report that my second grader is currently reading Call of the Wild, the truth is that the book that hold his attention on the books full of characters from the movies and comic books. It may not be highbrow, but he loves to read it. Surrender your ideas for what your kids SHOULD read, and invest in books that they WILL read.