Okay, I’m writing this purely from an Instagram request – this is my experience from my whopping 6 years of motherhood and 30 something-ish years of life as an avid reader. A good portion of those years were spent in my grandmother’s small town library so that counts double right? So this is like taking advice for a 50 something-ish person. Wink, Wink.
- Be a Reader – You will not inspire a love of books if you do not show a love of books. Yes, busy mother of multiple small humans this means you too. Take just five minutes to read when they can see you – I understand that after 6 mins someone is probably going to start climbing furniture or discovering fire, but five minutes? You can do it and it counts. Have you’re kids gone past starting fires into full-blown pyromania then go for audiobooks, podcast, quality radio. Show them you consume thoughts and ideas any way you can.
- Fill Your Home with Books – These don’t need to be brand new, shiny hardcovers. They can be well-loved dollar paperbacks or stacks of library books or your neighbor’s hand-me-downs from when she officially declared she’s “Never homeschooling again!” for this month at least. Keep books in every room of the house, and yes I mean every room. Keep baskets of board books in the kitchen and stack of those cheap, easy readers in the car. Don’t get hung up about what books either. While I’ll always encourage a certain level of quality a few cartoon characters early reader will not rot your kid’s mind, but they might get them through a frustrating slump in their reading ability.
- Introduce Variety – You’re kids don’t have to sit down an pour over Shakespeare and Wordsworth at age three, but it’s never too early to give them the chance to experiences plays, poetry, biographies, history and so much more. Magazines are a great way to do this – a subscription to National Geographic or the various Cricket Magazines is a great way to introduce variety even if you really prefer murder mysteries revolving around cats and their bumbling, but lovable owners. Not judging.
- Books as Gifts – It’s never too early to give books as gifts or requests books as gifts. Stocking stuffers, Easter Baskets, International Talk Like a Pirate Day, Wednesday – these are all good reasons for the gift of a book. Books don’t have to be individual gifts – gifts books the family will read together. Big series like Narnia or Harry Potter are great to give together to encourage read aloud time. Calvin and Hobbes anthologies are a perfect way to spend a post-Christmas sugar crash together.
- Read – I think this one goes without saying, but it’s the easiest to forget. We have to read to our kids even when they’re only sitting still for three pages or leave books with bite wounds. Reading together is a skill you build on. A child who has never been read to won’t know how to sit still and listen suddenly at the age of four.
And last, but not as commonly talked about:
Let your children love books.
Don’t worry about them not being an early reader, don’t worry about them only wanting graphic novels instead of Tolstoy at age 8, don’t worry about Mensa booklists or anything else. Let your children develop a love of reading and the rest will fall into place in its own time. If you are a child, whom shall remain nameless, who in first grade reads at a third-grade level (and it should be mentioned said child was not reading before Kindergarten in any big way), but only wants to read first-grade level books because that’s what he enjoys (even if your mother really can’t stand Piggie and Elephant, at all).. go ahead. Enjoy. I want you to love books above all else.
….. we’ll start the Mensa list next year.