Spoiler alert, I’m writing this 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. 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. Often we hear 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.
Model a Love for Books
I want my children to LOVE reading. I grew up seeing my parents devour books. Reading as a hobby was never a foreign concept for me. Therefore, that is step one. Read your own books in front of your children. 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 Power of Audiobooks
The second step for encouraging a love for reading in our kids is utilizing audiobooks. Seriously, listening to audiobooks in the car is what sparked my child’s interest to care about 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 alike. 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 have been a great jump start to their love of stories. It’s not something I see talked about very much, so I’m excited to share this gold nugget with you.
Manage Your Expectations
Lastly, it is so important to set appropriate expectations for yourself and you kids. 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, it has meant reading some Shimmer and Shine books that basically retold a TV episode they loved. So, what? It was a book they were excited about, and excitement has been my goal. They’ve since built up their reading stamina, and now ask for more complex stories.
Developing a love of reading a books takes time, especially when you are dealing with a reluctant reader. 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 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. 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