The third way to establish a culture of reading in your home is to Share reading with your children.
My father worked second shift when I was younger which meant he wouldn’t get home until 10:30 or 11 pm. Luckily for me this meant that my “library days” started early in life. Mother would sit on the couch with 3-year-old me around 9:45 pm and begin to read. We would read through an entire stack of books before my dad came home. Some of the books were silly, some were to help me learn letters and numbers, and some were spiritual. She would read and read for almost an hour until my father would make it home to be with his family. I can vividly remember sitting beside her while she read, waiting for Dad to walk through the door. Sharing reading with your child at an early age will do wonders for their aptitude and desire to read.
First, read a book with your child. Sit down next to them and show them the book. Let them read the words they know. My father taught me to read when I was five and I haven’t stopped reading since. If my mother hadn’t read to me when I was younger I don’t believe I would have that thirst as I grew older. My sister learned to read when she was four because I was so excited about books and after that our youngest sister could hardly stand the fact that her older siblings could read and she couldn’t. The culture of reading was strong in our house and it trickled down directly from our parents.
Second, read to your children until they are very old. We would have a sit-down family reading time as often as our busy schedules would allow. My father and mother read the Laura Ingalls Wilder series, Gentle Ben, Marguerite Henry novels, Christmas story books, and many more. Gathering together for just a half hour to hear one chapter became such a tradition in our family. One chapter was never enough! We would beg our parents to read more.
Third, read the same book your child is reading. Ask them to pick out a book and then read it when they are done. You will have something to talk about with them at dinner and in the car on the way to school and at the pool. You will have something in common. I remember after reading Barbara Bush’s thick volume, my mother took me to a theater downtown to hear her speak. It was actually one of her book tour stops. I was one of the youngest people there, but I remember the experience vividly and fondly as I shared it with my mother. My wife and her mother read the same series when she was in high school and they still swap books to this day. As a result they are able to converse with one another about the books and enjoy that shared connection over reading.
Check back next week to read the conclusion of our series on establishing a culture of reading in your home!
- written by David Baral, illustrations by Patrick Farley, 2018