How to Get Kids to Love Books

18 Mar

I think one of the most common questions I receive at the reference desk is, “What should my <insert grade here> be reading?” or “My kid doesn’t like to read, do you have any suggestions?” Parents/caregivers are wanting to raise children who enjoy reading for pleasure, but are often unsure of how to go about it.

NPR posted a Q & A with Daniel Willingham, focusing on his new book Raising Kids Who Read, although not an extensive interview, Willingham brings up a number of valid suggestions about teaching children to love reading.  He hits the nail on the head with his suggestion of becoming a model for your children.  You want to see your kids learn to love reading – it’ll come easier to them if they see the people around them putting value on reading, spending time not only reading to them, but for themselves as well.

He also suggests playing with words and sounds with your child from a young age, directly related to Every Child Ready to Read‘s five practices for supporting early literacy.  Children wh learn abouth rhythm, rhyme, songs, animal sounds have a greater chance for success when they begin reading because they are familiar with how our language works.

Willingham also mentions the importance of access to books, especially where kids might find others elves being bored – car trips, the bathroom, and in places they can easily access – low shelves, baskets on the floor.  All of these suggestions are great way to instill a love of readin in your children.

Other suggestions that I can think of off the top of my head include visiting your local library and bookstore, going to storytime where many librarians not only read to kids, but share valuable information with adults, and to read, read, read.  Reading can happen all around the house, in the car, waiting at a doctor’s office at the park, etc.  teach your kids it hat books can go anywhere they go.  Do you have trouble keeping your very active toddler sitting still to read a book? Try at lunch time while they’re strapped into their high chair or in the bathtub.  Who says you have to read a whole book in one sitting?  Read two pages and try again later.  Don’t force books on kids, just keep the available and continue trying.  As for older kids, “reluctant readers” are just picky – they need to find the right book for them and when they do – watch out, they won’t be able to put it down!

Check out the interview on NPR and Willingham’s new book, Raising Kids Who Read.


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