Okay, so I’m not a master of much other than crying during This is Us and spending too much money at Target. I can admit this.
That being said, you should understand I am not a professional in teaching reading.
I would, however, say I’m decently skilled at encouraging a love for it though, which has subsequently made the subject delightfully easy if not near effortless around here.
We have 2 readers in this house, 1 eager learner, and a toddler who has memorized much of “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” which could be mistaken for a reading 2 year old by someone who didn’t know better.
I thought I’d take a little minute to share some easy to implement tips that have worked for us in developing a passion for books and reading.
1. Respect the books. Around here things get messy. But not your books. I’ll walk around the 30 blocks and 12 tsum tsums you’re playing with or by, but if there is a disregarded book kindly return it to it’s home please. Nice and neat. Are you old enough to color-coordinate? Because that too.
2. Library love. There is a love order of buildings we frequent. We’ll go ahead and put church first, because that’s generally true. I’m going to be honest and tell you I’d have to let Target and Starbucks duke it out for second place, but I assure you the library is third. Squeals abound when we are headed there, and four small body’s on the verge of bursting with excitement is exactly what the library is not about, but we’re ever working that out.
3. Only book bring-alongs allowed! Doctors appointments, dance class, play-dates, grocery stores, and general errands generate a need for all children involved to bring toys, gadgets, kitchen tools, and/or rocks. Nope. Only books in this girl’s minivan. You may bring as little or as much as you like to keep you entertained, as long as it’s a book.
4. Movie comparisons. This is fun. We love to read the book before a movie comes out so we can compare the two. Jungle Book, BFG, Peter Pan, Star Wars are some fun ones we did as read-alouds so the whole family could chime in. We don’t haul the six of us to the theaters often, so when we do it’s a big ordeal and spending prior weeks reading the book amps up the fun even more!
5. Coffee talk. I don’t know if this is right, but I don’t want to know if it’s wrong. My people are about coffee milk. It excites their very souls, actually. I take mine black, because I have no room for folly. The rest of them take it about 75% milk, 12% coffee, 7% chocolate syrup, and 6% sugar. It’s a general science so I felt the need for the percentages. They get to drink it out of my breakable mugs. This is earned privilege people, and the only participants allowed are those willing to discuss characters and settings in books they are currently reading or have recently read. Coffee talk is near to my heart, and out of this list it is surely my favorite.
6. Daily read times. You know that time when it’s not quite bedtime but is quite youregonnaneedtogivemeandeachotherspace time? Yea that time. Everyone gets a book. Everyone gets a bed. Read. If you can’t read, enjoy a wonderful world of illustrations. Take as many as you need and take your dear, sweet time.
7. Book to toy ratio. It might sound silly, but it works. Have more books on hand than toys. It minimizes your space clutter and keeps them reaching for books. Plus that’s just one less miniature Darth Vadar you step on. Because respect the books, remember?
8. Monkey see, monkey do. I am not calling you a monkey. I am not calling your children monkeys. Maybe I’m calling my children monkeys. The truth is though, I cannot come close to ever counting the times I was reading in bed, on the couch, at the table, on the swing, and a little human scooted next to me with a book of his/her own. It’s a sobering reminder that whatever it is I’m doing on my personal time is closely watched and mimicked, so I like to model well. (Someone help me learn how to insert emoji girl with hand out into blogs.)
9. Don’t push it. If they aren’t ready to read, I don’t ask them to read. There are plenty of books to choose from around here heavy in illustrations, and they are never under any pressure to perform for me. I find that in order to cultivate a love for reading, it’s best to just set it up and let them move at their own pace.
10. Read alouds for everyone. I have two independent readers here and two more I read aloud to daily. I like to make sure I don’t limit that to the littler ones. If I have a child interested in a book above his or her reading level, then we go in as a family read aloud. The kids love it, I love it, the dogs love it, the chickens love it. Just kidding we don’t read to the chickens very often. If family read alouds are too stressful (ex. when you have a toddler that takes interest in bopping heads for spontaneous duck duck goose 3 chapters in), I suggest reading aloud during meal times. If their mouths are full of food and their fingers are busy building a carrot tent then they’re less likely to bop each other and more likely to enjoy the story.
To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark. —Victor Hugo