Raising Readers: Copycat Kids

Happy Monday!  Based on audience feedback, today I’m introducing a weekly recurring  theme.  Mondays will now feature posts with tips on Raising Readers – one of my favorite topics.

From the first time your little one smiled back at your smiling face, or repeated that word you shouldn’t have said, or put on your high heels and draped your scarf around her shoulders, you’ve known how much she looks up to you.  She learns from your example every day – whether you’re trying to set an example or not.  If there is something you want your child to value, you had better show how much it matters to you – in a million ways on many days.  So if you want a reader, you have to be one.  Like this:

  1. Let them see you reading books, magazines and more.  Don’t save it until they are in bed, don’t put it off because you’re busy with other things.  Readers rejoice – it is IMPORTANT to read in front of your children! How many times did they see you reading last week?  Can you top that this week?
  2. Rethink your boredom busters.  Is your go-to distraction in the doctor’s waiting room or outside of gymnastics class a little time on Facebook or checking out pictures of naughty dogs caught on camera?  Is it Candy Crush Saga or Clash of the Clans?  If you reach for your phone or tablet in your downtime, your kids learn to do it, too.  Put a novel in your bag or check out the pile of magazines at the pediatrician’s office.  They still have those!
  3. Talk about it – they hear everything!  Did you ever think your kids weren’t listening to a word you said, until they repeated the most embarrassing or private sentiment you shared with your spouse?  They hear everything!  So at the dinner table, or as you wash dishes, or in the car on the way to soccer, make sure to discuss the things you read with your spouse.  Talk about it with your friends while picking the kids up from school.   Whenever you can, make sure those little ears hear you saying “I read the funniest story,” or “I was reading about that just yesterday.”
  4. Get it off the bookshelf.  Make sure your kids see a variety of reading materials – and aren’t afraid to touch them.  Mine like to play library with my “grown-up books” – and seeing my 4-year-old quietly paging through Webster’s Dictionary is a treat.  Kids should feel comfortable and familiar with books or all shapes and sizes.   Leave magazines on the coffee table or in the bathroom – anywhere they know it’s OK to look at them.  Mine love to look through the pictures in National Geographic and Smithsonian, and those pictures can start some great conversations.

    You're never too young for some good "tales!"

    You’re never too young for some good “tales!”

  5. Show them what’s on the screen.  There is so much to read online or in e-book/e-zine format these days, it would be a shame not to take advantage of it.  But when your kids see you reading it, do they differentiate between you catching up on current events and you playing Angry Birds?  Take the time to talk with your kids about the things you read on your electronic devices.  Point out the great resources you have access to.  Show them how to look up articles to answer whatever crazy questions they may have, and READ them the answers.
  6. Are they old enough to share? Be cognizant of your child’s development stages and what material is appropriate for your child.  Not just to protect them from information that’s too mature (none of us would read a steamy romance aloud to the kids), but to expose them to what IS okay for them.  Reading to them from a book of poetry you enjoy, or an article about robots in Popular Science, or an inspiring news story about a young girl saving a cat that fell in the river – all of that is a great way to share what you read with your kids.  Let them know that just because content isn’t behind an illustrated cover doesn’t mean it’s off-limits.   If your kids are old enough (and lucky enough) to have their own tablets,  Facebook accounts, etc., then send them emails or post links to their page about articles they might find interesting or new books from their
    favorite authors.
  7. Point out the possibilities.  Especially with young children, the import of reading in everyday life is not so obvious.  So make sure to emphasize all the times in the days when you are reading.  “I’m just reading the sign to see which way to go.”  “Mommy is reading the directions on the box to see what temperature we need.” “Daddy’s reading the instructions to see how to get the batteries in.”  Pass them the box of muffin mix or the instruction book that came with Jake’s Talking Pirate Ship and let them pretend to read, too!

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  So make sure your kids are imitating good reading habits.  They are never to young to learn.  And it’s never too late to start.

If you have more great ideas about setting a reading example for kids – please share them in the comments section.

If there’s a Raising Readers topic you’d like covered in a future post, please post that below or email me.  I am happy to oblige!

And if you liked this, please click Like, share with your friends, or follow my blog.  

Read on!

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18 thoughts on “Raising Readers: Copycat Kids

  1. you go, girl! i’m the one known as ‘grandma book’ to my grands…they’ve got so much of everything already that i find books the absolute best thing to buy them for christmas, birthdays, and everything in between, so your ideas definitely hit home with me. nothing worse to see than kids that are totally freaked out when the wifi is down…

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    • Thanks, Jane. My kids are lucky enough to have 2 grandmas who buy books ( and magazine subscriptions) and speaking as a mom, it’s truly a blessing to have family who give books as gifts. Plus, every time a Highlights arrives, we remember how awesome grandma is for sending it!

      Like

      • And Grandma is very happy to know that the girls have a little bit of her visiting every month. It’s a reminder of how much they are loved, even from far away.

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    • Dad, depending on what device you are viewing on, you may see a star to click or a small button that says “like” down by the comments section. If you are still having trouble, try clicking on the title of the post, then look in the comment area again.

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  2. Katey, my family actually threw me a “book shower” when I had Emma. Instead of giving me a card, everyone who came was asked to bring their favorite book from they were little and sign it instead. It helped immensely in creating her initial library. I’ve always had them out for her to play with just like a toy. They’re on the bookshelf with our books; she knows she can’t touch our books, but she can play with hers as much as she wants. (She’s two so actual reading doesn’t occur yet, but she has many of the ones we read a lot memorized.) Making them accessible to her from day one has made a huge difference (I think). She loves going in there to read/play with her books, and now at night, she likes to “read” after we tuck her in bed.

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    • Teresa, I think that’s fantastic! I love the idea of a book shower.
      I’ve also always had books accessible to the kids – but I’ve been amazed time and again by how many people don’t. There’s a mindset that kids aren’t ready for books until preschool, or that books are just for bedtime stories, or that the kids might damage the books.
      Look for another post soon about ways to make the kids’ books more accessible and desirable to the little ones (and their older siblings). Though it sounds to me like you could help write that one!

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      • We were lucky; even though we didn’t grow up with a lot of money, the one thing my parents ALWAYS said yes to was a books. It definitely shaped who both me and my sister are and what we chose to do career-wise, and as an adult, I can see how important that emphasis on reading was when they were struggling to find money for food on the table. I’m so thankful! Can’t wait to read your upcoming post!

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  3. I read an article that said, when you are too tired to do anything else, read your kids a book. I have books stashed all over the house so when I really need to do something with my kids and don’t have any energy, I can grab a book. We also read longer books together at night. We did Pippi Longstocking. We read a few one-off novels. We have been on a Beverly Cleary kick for a while. We are all really enjoying reading these together.

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    • Terri – that’s a great idea. I have them everywhere, too. Sometimes I just run out of ways to distract the kids, or get tired of noise…but I can always read them a book. My girls really enjoyed reading Clementine together – you should give it a try when you get through Beverly Cleary (we do those, too).

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  4. Love this post! I also wanted to mention that I try to let my children see me writing quite often too! And now they all have their own little journals that they love taking notes in (much like Harriet the Spy!) and we even all sleep with a bunch of writing paper next to our beds (which we call the Dream Ream!) to record night time thoughts and ideas that come when you least expect it. Yay for reading AND writing! My two passions. Thank you for blogging such meaningful posts.

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