Sometimes you have a child who just loves and loves to look at books. But what if your child doesn’t want to be read to or read a story before bed time? How can we as parents cultivate a love for books? The stress on parents to get their kids reading and reading early is strong. So often we here about little Susie who is reading beginning chapter books by age 4, but we never really hear about little Janie who can build an elaborate block city, or little Stevie who is unbelievably kind and empathic with his friends. All of these things are equally important for child development, but somewhere along the way reading got put on this pedestal. What I’m getting at is this, it is okay if your child doesn’t naturally love books. The best part is that there are things you can do to actually encourage a love of reading.
Spoiler alert, I’m writing this post as a parent who has a reluctant reader. Learning to read is just harder for her than other subjects. It’s not a bad thing; it just is what it is. But I want her to LOVE reading. I grew up seeing my parents devour books, so reading as a hobby was never a foreign concept for me. So that is step one. If we want our kids to enjoy reading, then they need to see us enjoying reading. Mama, when was the last time you read a book for pleasure? Probably quite some time, especially if you’re in the early baby and toddler years. But, this is an important thing we can model for our children.
The second step for encouraging a love for reading in our kids is audiobooks. Seriously, listening to audiobooks in the car is what sparked my child’s interest is even listening to stories. I can’t thank Junie B. Jones enough! (These are good books for the car because there is a lot of funny dialogue) Another wonderful resource for audiobooks is Epic! (Read the best books for early readers on Epic!). Epic! is an app used in homes and schools all over. You’ve probably heard of it. I like that I can tailor each of my kid’s profiles to their interest and reading level. For example, my pre-readers have all read-a-loud books to choose from, and my early reader has a mix of read-a-louds and age level books. We have independent reading time as part of our homeschool, and Epic! is always a popular choice. I feel like audiobooks has been such a great jump start to their love of stories, and it’s not something I see talked about very much.
Lastly, it is so important to set appropriate expectations. I’ve seen conversations in the homeschool community especially, saying that we need to be reading these long classic books to our young elementary school aged kids. And yes, I totally get it. I want to read Little House and Charlotte’s Web too. But, also, it’s fine if your kid isn’t ready for that just yet. Meet them where they are at first, then slowly build. For us, that meant reading some Shimmer and Shine books that basically retold a TV episode they’d seen. So, what? It was a book they were excited about, and excitement was my goal. They’ve since built up their reading stamina, and now ask for more complex storylines.
Developing a love of reading a books takes time. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. We did audiobooks for probably a year before my kids started showing an interest in hard copy books at home. And that is a-okay by me, because now I’m seeing them consistently excited when we sit down and read together. They shout “more! more!” when I tell them that’s all for today. So, turn off the noise and pressure you might be feeling from seeing what other kids are doing. Turn your attention to your sweet little ones and meet them right where they’re at.
Below, you will find a list of books my kids have loved:
Owl Diaries https://amzn.to/3iPPtnC
Zoey and Sassafras: Dragons and Marshmallows https://amzn.to/3jUDwOF
Greetings from Somewhere https://amzn.to/373Nlq9
Tum Tum and Nutmeg: Adventures Beyond Nutmouse Hall https://amzn.to/36WyxJN
Junie B. Jones Books 1-4 https://amzn.to/3nK03Ac