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:
- 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?
- 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!
- 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.”
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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!
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