Family


Creating a Culture of Reading in Your Home

Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.


Emilie Buchwald

"How do I get my kids to read more?" Or "how do I get my kids to enjoy reading?"

The simple answer to these questions is "READ!" But, that's a little too simplistic.

We need a little more advice & tips & tricks to flesh out this idea.

Well, I've scoured the World Wide Web. I've evaluated my own family's reading style. And I'm coming to you with some really great ideas for you to implement in your own home to raise a new generation of book nerds... I mean, book lovers!

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Step One: Become a Book Lover Yourself

Chances are that if you've clicked on this post, you are already a bookworm or well on your way. I firmly believe that this is the first stop on your way to helping your kids fall in love with reading.

Story Time! Once upon a time, I sold eyeglasses. Being a nearsighted person, I absolutely believed in the need for glasses. However, the executives in the eyeglass company wanted us to sell these ridiculous warranties that had page after page of teeny, tiny print. The terms & conditions were so unclear that even my managers were not clear on what it covered. But, we were required to sell this & our commission was dependent on how many warranties we sold. Being unsure of the warranty & not having bought it myself, I was (needless to say) TERRIBLE at selling these warranties. I ranked dead last among the sales staff.

All that to say - You have to believe in something to be a good salesperson for it. Your kids should see you reading. Then, they'll know that you value that habit & they'll be more likely to find value in it, too.

Haven't found books you like or feel like you have no time to read? I totally understand. I tend to go through cycles with reading, but here are some things that I find help me keep reading as a priority:

  • Find your genre (or genres) - Do you tend to lean toward fiction or non-fiction? Do you enjoy reading about self-improvement? Are you interested in a more devotional or theological reading? If fiction is more your style, do you enjoy thrillers or romance? Historical or contemporary settings? What classic novels did you skip over in school that might be good to read before your kids have to read them? If you get bored with one genre (I'm talking about you, WWII historical fiction), move on to something outside your comfort zone (Malcom Gladwell books have been my "stretching" books lately).
  • Follow other book lovers - Instagram & Pinterest are great places to find book recommendations. I also like to use Goodreads to track my reading & find ideas for what to read next.
  • Frequent your library - I am a big fan of free. And I love books. So, being able to borrow books for free is one of my favorite things. (I know, we pay taxes & those taxes go to the library. But still!) Most libraries have a shelf of recommendations from the librarians or other featured titles. Grab one that look like it's in your lane & give it a try! You can also ask the staff - they live for a recommendation challenge.
  • Fit it into your schedule - Say it with me, "Put down the phone. Pick up the book." Even if it's for 10 minutes, read a little bit! Your kids will notice! Or get an audiobook to listen to while you wash the dishes or fold laundry!

(Sorry, not sorry that I alliterated! I just couldn't help myself!)

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Step Two: Read with Your Kids

If your kids are still little, this is an easy task. Babies just love sitting with a parent & reading (the same book over & over). And even before they're even close to talking, research shows that reading to your baby is important for bonding & language development. Toddlers might need a little more persuasion or excitement from their books. I've found that my little ones are more likely to engage with books that have flaps for them to open (Dear Zoo is a classic) or are about a subject they enjoy (trucks, ocean animals, etc.).

If you need some inspiration, go follow Sarah Mackenzie (Read-Aloud Revival) & Meghan Cox Gurdon (The Enchanted Hour) (& read their books, too)! They have SO many good ideas for how to incorporate reading into your daily life. And they also provide recommendations & resources to help you along the way. Another good book for recommendations is Give Your Child the World by Jamie C. Martin. She gives excellent ideas of how to incorporate world cultures into your reading time & helps you see why that's so important!

In case you want quick ideas, here's how we're working to cultivate a reading culture in our home:

  • We use our local library & check out about 20 books every week or 2 from the library. Since some library buildings are currently closed, that means you may have to go online & request the books ahead of time. Sometimes, that can seem daunting, but I just take a subject from school or stuff I know they're interested in. This gives us fresh stories to read throughout the day. {Updated to add that we are currently in the midst of moving, and have yet to explore our new town's library. But we had a great one back in Maryland.}
  • We keep books handy. They have books in their play area & books in their rooms. The boys have small baskets that they keep on their beds with their favorite books to look at as they fall asleep. Tyndale always just seems to sleep under a mountain of books.
  • We research & buy quality books for our home library. If we borrow a book from the library that is an instant favorite, I put it on an Amazon wish list or a note on my phone. Then, when it's a birthday or holiday, I have a list of ideas ready to go. I also like to order used books from AbeBooks.com or Thriftbooks.com. The shipping takes a little longer than Amazon, but it helps keep these books out of landfills & supports smaller booksellers. Another place to check is The Good Book Company or other small Christian book sellers.
  • We set aside time to read. Mealtimes are great because their hands & mouths are busy! We've managed to make this work, even with a very active 2-year-old. We've read the "Winnie the Pooh" Stories, Charlotte's Web, My Father's Dragon (trilogy), The Saturdays (Melendy Quartet), & some Little House series books.

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Step 3: Reap the Rewards

It's not an overnight change, and it may seem like a fruitless effort at first. Some kids just haven't met their perfect book yet. Some kids struggle with reading more than others & need more read aloud time with an adult. But when you implement these changes, you are sure to nurture a love of reading in the little people around you. Keep at it, friend!

Oh, and just because your kid learns to read, doesn't mean you're off the hook for reading to them! My oldest 2 are really strong readers, but they still LOVE when I take the time to read to them. Studies have showed a direct correlation between a kid's decrease in interest in reading & the decrease in read aloud time (especially books read for pleasure). With so many wonderful books out there, you are sure to find something that everyone can enjoy.

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In case you need more inspiration, here are a couple bookish boards I've been pinning to!

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Cheering you on!

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