How to Encourage a Love of Reading

Reading statueI love to read.  So do my kids.  A love of reading is a valuable asset to your homeschooling environment.  It helps to facilitate learning.  It’s a necessity if you want your child to be able to work independently on some of his studies.  Here are some ideas on how to encourage a love of reading.

Be a Role Model

How many times have you heard your child repeat what you say, or do an activity exactly the way you do?  Quite a few, I’m sure.  Children learn through imitation.  That’s why it is so important for us as parents to be a positive  “reading” role model for our children.  You can do this by letting your child see you delighting in a good book, getting excited about going to the nearest bookstore (I do), or frequently going to the library.  This shows her that you love reading and she’ll pick up on that.

Read to Your Child From an Early Age

I read books to my children when they were very young, probably around the time they were able to sit up as infants.  They enjoyed cuddling up on Mommy’s lap to hear a story and see the colorful pictures in the book.  This continued on into the elementary years.  Some of our best family memories were of sitting together enjoying all of the Oz books by L. Frank Baum, The Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.  My youngest loved Tolkien so much that she begged to read The Lord of the Rings by herself in 2nd grade.  I wasn’t sure that she would be able to handle it, but ultimately I gave in.  Surprisingly, she read it without any help from me.  Isn’t it amazing what children can do when the desire and the drive are there?

I would try to read to your child on a daily basis.  Doing it at night will help to calm them down before bedtime.  Don’t be afraid to read to them at other random moments too.  Sometimes the cleaning can wait while the two of you sit down and indulge yourselves in Green Eggs and Ham.

Reading on the Go

How many times throughout the year do we have to get up and go somewhere in the car?  Probably more times than we would like to.  It’s a good chance, though, to let your child have some quiet reading time.  You might want to have a special book bag or backpack set aside for trips so that you can grab it and fill it with books at a moments notice.

Shopping is often a boring activity for kids, but reading can make it a little more pleasant.  My teens still read while I am looking for the best bargains.  They use the Nook or smartphone to read ebooks since those devices are light and can hold many books.  There are quite a few eReaders available including the Barnes and Noble Nook, the Amazon Kindle, and the Sony Reader.  We love ours.  Ebooks tend to be cheaper and take up a lot less space on our bookshelf.

Limit TV and Video Game Time

It’s so easy to let your child sit in front of a TV or play a video game while you get work done or take a break.  Unfortunately, it won’t help your child develop a love of reading, nor will it help their learning.  Studies show that watching television for long periods of time may hinder brain development in the areas responsible for organizing, self-control, and attention.  Research has also shown that watching television at an early age has been linked to ADD and ADHD.  Video games have been found to have similar negative effects on children.  So try to minimize the amount of time your kids spend on recreational electronics.  It will benefit them in the long run.

Educational shows and computer games, on the other hand, can be beneficial, but you still don’t want to overdo it.  Try to set loving limits on all the time they spend on electronics so that they can get outside and play, or read, or do other physical and mental activities.

Books Around the House

You can really inspire a love of reading by having a lot of reading material around your house.  This can include books, ebooks, and children’s magazines.  You can find many reasonably priced used books on Amazon.  There are plenty of good children’s magazines on the market including Highlights and Zoobooks.  Try to find material related to your child’s interests.  It will really draw them towards reading it.

 Rewards and Gifts

Books and ebooks make wonderful rewards and gifts.  One summer my daughter worked ahead on Algebra I so that she could start Geometry in the fall as an 8th grader.  In July, she started losing motivation, so I offered to by her a Nookbook for every chapter she completed.  She agreed and, thanks to that incentive, she finished enough of her math to go on to Geometry.

Books make nice presents.  I have given them as gifts to my children since they were very young.  They enjoyed them just as much as the games and other toys they received.  More importantly, getting them inspired them to read.

When you put a high value on reading, your kids more than likely will too.  Do you have any ideas for fostering a love of reading?  Feel free to enter them in the comments area below.

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