On Wednesday, it was $3 Admission Day into the Kern County Fair. Overpriced, I know. Anyway, the event that day drew lots and lots of people. In the early evening hours, around 6 or 7pm, there was a 20 minute line just to buy your ticket! Felt like the ghetto Disneyland. Some people kept looking at the little girl sitting on the curb, quietly reading her book. A few even pointed. Every now and then she would pick up her little head from the book and ask her mother a question, then proceed to read again. At the fair? With all the commotion and tomfoolery? I think it was pretty cool. Especially, because it was my daughter! I wasn't surprised. She reads everywhere. In the car, in her room, during recess sometimes, in class (at the wrong time), outside and anywhere else she feels the desire. Kind of reminds me of me. I remember getting in trouble because I hid a book on my lap during teaching time in class, on more than one occasion. So, how did I raise such a fervent reader?
My ideas will probably sound like tried-and-true familiar methods but that is because they work! Trust me on this one. I have two girls who adore books and another, at the tender age of 1, who is already crawling in bed with big sister and taking part in story time. She is even starting to sit through her own stories for a little bit longer at a time.
So, these are the tips:
- Early exposure - Keep books around from day 1. Even tiny babies respond to the sound of your voice. Your baby is never too young to be engaged in hearing you read something, even if it is just for a few moments. You are exposing them to language, the basis of all reading.
- Consistency - Read to your child every single day. Or at least almost every day. In our house, we can't get away with a day without reading unless there is some special circumstance that prohibits it, such as vacation, kids fall asleep before bedtime routine, or they fall asleep on the way home from somewhere late and night in the car. Even with the last circumstance, Emme often wakes up and asks for some kind of story. If it is just really too late, we hand her one of her picture books and tell her she can "read" to herself while she falls asleep. Other than those things, we read to our kids (or they read to themselves) every day. Emme is "spoiled" by also getting a story at EVERY nap, and she takes a nap every day.
- Keep it fresh - Always try to offer new books or reading materials. Books can be found extremely cheap at second-hand stores, Wal Mart, on clearance shelves, yard sales, online, or even those scholastic book sales through your child's school. Not to mention, the library is FREE. Unless, you are like me and always end up paying late fees. Also, for older kids who can read solo, try subscribing to National Geographic or another interesting magazine that will hold their attention. I remember my dad subscribing me to Nickelodeon and Disney magazine and I loved getting new issues in the mail. Oh, and let's not forget my obsession with MAD magazine when I got a little older for the other two. Let them explore the various genres. If they like Art, buy them a book with lots of pictures about Art. If they like video games and are more visual, try graphic novels, I love those myself!
- Make it Accessible - Keep books down on the ground for everyone to reach. We keep the floor level stash limited to contain messes, but we switch them out every now and then.
- Model it - Try to let your kids see you reading (even if it is just your trashy gossip magazine), or create a family reading time. My girls have witnessed me reading on a regular basis since birth. If you don't have time to read by yourself, still try to read with them so they get the message that it is important.
- Internalize it - Help them understand that books contain ideas that we can talk about and relate to. Ask them questions about what they read and test their comprehension with simple conversation. It will make them think about what they are reading.
On an even more personal note, I have to give my mom a huge shout-out for doing these things for my brother and I growing up. I have a terrible memory, but the few I do have from childhood are about crawling into her warm bed and reading Steinbeck and Hemingway at a very young age. I remember library trips and the excitement I always felt getting new books. Also, to my dad, who never denied me the opportunity on a bookstore mini shopping spree in my older childhood years and would even let me buy books by Stephen King and Clive Barker. (He didn't know how scary they were! All he knew is that they kept me reading). Thanks parents!
If anyone has any experiences with getting their kids to love reading, or cool stories to share- COMMENT AWAY! I'd love to hear from you!
Look at all these books I bought this week for 30 cents each!!