When I was pregnant with Adrienne I remember reading an article about how to best teach your kids to become learners. How to teach them to love reading and pursue it on their own. I can’t remember it verbatim, but I memorized this one line and it still bounces around in my head from time to time: Read to your kids. Read and read and read and read and read some more. When you think you can’t read another word, keep reading.
Well, not always. While Adrienne loves reading now, that was not always the case. When she was about one, I remember thinking whyyy won’t she let me read to her more?? It’s all I wanted to do, and NOW, it’s all she wants me to do. But it was a process to teach her to love reading. Below are a few things that worked to get her interested in reading (and I really, really think that personal interest in books is the biggest reason she can speak so clearly and has a large vocabulary and is learning to read on her own), and I’m hoping will hook Jesse (and your kids!!) too.
1. They don’t have to sit still for you to read to them. Especially when they’re young, let them roll/crawl/jump around while you read to them. No need to fight that battle. You reading is ENOUGH. You can work on sitting still later. They’ll soak it up, even on the move.
2. Find a local story time. Our library has story time every day of the week, three times a day. We are so lucky I can hardly stand it. But even if you don’t have a library like that near you, usually book stores have a story time once a week or so. Having other people read (and act silly and do voices and be really animated) is fun and a nice break for mamas.
3. Start early and make it a habit. I remember my parents telling me that they read aloud to me on the day they brought me home from the hospital and everyday afterwards (some of my favorite memories – that I never told my junior high friends about – are my parents reading to me when I was a teenager) and I always vowed to the same with my own children someday.
4. Watch the movie first. Wait!! Before you stop reading, and leave this blog and never come back, hear me out. I mean it. I’m not big on letting my little ones watch TV. Adrienne only gets to watch it a few times a month, BUT, when she was about 18 months, she watched The Lorax (in fact, it’s the only movie she’s ever watched all the way through) and after she watched the movie, she was so interested in the characters and the story, she would sit through a reading of the book three times in row, which is like 45 minutes of reading. You know how kids like repetition? Well this is like that. She knew the story and knew what to expect and therefore was interested. I’m not saying the movie will be better, I’m just saying it will engage your little one. Seriously, try it.
5. Audio Books. I totally know the feeling of not being able to read aloud anymore in a day. That’s where audio books come in. They have a lot of them online and you can usually check them out at the library, too. Not only does it give you a break, but usually they are well done (most of them even include music!) so they are super engaging. When Jesse was born and I was nursing 10,000 times a day, these were LIFESAVERS, we checked out like 20 a week.
6. Let them see YOU enjoy reading. I don’t know about all kids, but Adrienne wants to do what I’m doing 99% of the time. Dishes, mopping the floor, folding laundry, looking at instagram on my phone (whoops), and READING. Set up a silent reading time (even if it’s only 10 minutes a day) and let them look at books while you also read for yourself.
These are things that have really worked well for us. How about you? Any tips on how to encourage little ones to enjoy reading?