Family life

Tracy's mama memoirs: How to raise a reader

What can you do to encourage your kids to love books?

Tracy's mama memoirs: How to raise a reader

Something happened this weekend that filled my heart with joy. We were heading out for a long drive up north in long-weekend traffic and I was suggesting to the girls to get a bag together of stuff to do to entertain themselves. Usually this involves some combination of colouring books and electronic devices (and Taylor Swift CDs), but this time, my seven-year-old said, “I think I’ll bring my book.”

We have a stack of books that reside in the car for the kids to flip through and they make good use of them, but this was the first time Anna realized that her nightly reading could transfer to car-ride entertainment. She has always loved books — both of them do — but Anna has been reluctant to read when she’s by herself.  She reads to us nightly, but prefers to cuddle up and have us read to her. It is probably her favourite thing in the world. If we ever have an “issue” at home and I send her up to her room, I will find her on her bed, with a big stack of books that she’ll flip through to calm herself down. I figure that’s a win-win. Also, if I ever want a consequence to make an impact, it would be to take away books before bed (which I don’t like to do, but it’s the only thing that she cares that much about). But she has seemed reluctant to crack open a chapter book on her own.

We started reading to her when she was a baby. Someone in my mom’s group told me she was already reading to her six-week-old and I thought that was just bizarre. But then I tried it out with Anna and in the following months, it became a really nice part of our routine, something that we really looked forward to, and still do. Avery has also been read to since the early days, mostly because of Sean’s perseverance (because I was so tired!) and she, too, will throw a fit if we’ve run out of time in our evening for books. She is very eager to read her beginner books to us now, and to be on the receiving end of the books Anna has outgrown.

Anna just got a new batch of Magic Tree House books from Scholastic, so she brought them with us into the car. Not only was it fantastic to see her become so immersed in her own reading, it was so quiet! She is a definite “Are we there yet?” car traveller (and backseat driver, no less) and the drive up to cottage country was incredibly peaceful this time. Every once in a while she’d call out “I’m on chapter six!” or spell out a tricky word for us to help her with, or giggle over something going on in the story. Over the weekend, she read two of the books on her own, and had such a smile of satisfaction when she announced she’d finished the last page.

I always hoped my kids would love to read, and felt we were doing what we could to encourage it. It’s nice to see it paying off. We beat ourselves up so much for the things we do and don’t do as parents, that it’s good to recognize a triumph when it happens, don’t you think?

Also, over the weekend, I was talking to a woman who told me she created a parent-and-son book club for her boys and their friends when they were younger to help encourage their love of books. What a great idea!

Do your kids like to read? What are some of their favourite books? Our comments are working, so drop me a line, or tweet me @T_Chappell. I’d love to add some new titles to Anna’s summer reading list. (She has read and loved the Ramona series, Clementine, and some classics such as Pippi Longstocking, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Charlotte's Web. We’ve started Anne of Green Gables, but somehow that dropped off. Maybe we’ll pick it up again. I just picked up The Secret Garden and Doctor Doolittle at a book sale.)

This article was originally published on Jul 02, 2013

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