Despite the fact that I want to talk about books, let me first start with a note about — and a quote from — my favorite television show. There’s a connection, I promise. I’m a proud, adoring Gilmore Girls aficionado — I’m a sucker for lively banter and witty one-liners, both of which were delivered by GG on a regular basis. And I loved the relationship between Rory and Lorelai…the mere thought of Rory’s high school graduation speech (and de facto tribute to both her mom and her love of books) makes me swoon.
I want my daughters to find the same joy in books that I’ve always found (and that Rory found); so we, too, are a house filled with “love and fun and books.” The power of a well-told story, the lessons nested within the shelves of libraries and bookstores, the relationships with well-formed characters…ahh, I could go on and on about why I love books. Instead, though, let me offer five tips for creating your own book-loving household.
1. Create time for family reading. Whether you’re all focused on the same book or you’re reading independently, it’s important to set aside specific times for family reading. For our family, a no electronics policy works best during this time — I’ve even stopped using my Kindle or my reading apps on the iPad during these times. It was more powerful for my daughter to see me reading a physical book — for her, seeing a book in my hand helped to reinforce that it was reading time for all of us. We’ve held on to this tactic even though she’s now a second grader.
2. Let your kids choose their own books. I firmly believe that books are important, even if — and perhaps even moreso if — you’ve got a kid who “doesn’t like to read.” Whether your kid is naturally drawn to reading or not, work hard to find books related to things they find interesting. Remember that a compelling and relevant story can suck in even the most reluctant reader. So don’t be a book snob — reading anything is better than reading nothing.
3. Sprinkle in some classics or old favorites. I’m a big advocate of letting kids read what they love, but I also believe in sprinkling in some classic reads or favorites from your childhood. My second grader just discovered the joy of Nancy Drew, and we’re reading Anne of Green Gables together.
4. Don’t stop reading out loud! Reading out loud doesn’t have to end when your kids can read independently. Reading to each other can be a fun way to experience books. Have older kids read to younger kids. I encourage my daughter to read out loud to us during longer car rides. And, consider exploring audio books…it’s a fun way to mix things up and enjoy a story together.
5. Talk about what you’re reading. It’s easy to have a post-read conversation about story books. Encourage your kid to share their thoughts, ask questions or build on to the ending. If I’m not familiar with the chapter books my daughter chooses, I try to give it a full read (or, ahem, at least a quick skim) so that I can ask a few probing questions.
I’m no reading teacher, just a person who loves books (and the Gilmore Girls) and strives to impart that same love-of-story to my children. So far so good — my second grader is a strong reader and my 10-month-old loves to unload her book box and chew on the covers. We all start somewhere, right?