Raising Readers

Much parental hand-wringing and gnashing of teeth occurs over the extent – and type – of reading that children do. It’s a high-stakes concern, since academic proficiency is greatly aided by voluminous reading. Young bookworms almost effortlessly gain a larger vocabulary and an instinctive knack for proper grammar and spelling, not to mention all the spiritual/artistic/empathetic/etc. benefits of literature.

And so the reading issue taps right into parental anxieties… which are always amusing. In fact, being shocked and appalled at what youngsters want to read has been around as long as books have. From the penny dreadfuls to dime novels, cowboy adventures and serials, to comic strips, to Classic Comic versions of literary masterpieces, to series more noteworthy for volume than quality (see my commentary on Rainbow Magic), all the way up to graphic novels and  Captain Underpants fart jokes, grownups have been despairing over children’s reading materials for literally hundreds of years.

What we can all agree on is that reading is good, and we all want our children to enjoy books. To these ends, here’s an article on Commonsensemedia.org: How to Raise a Reader , giving some rather basic tips and ideas for getting them interested in books. (And they say don’t sweat the ‘junk reads’, the comics and series. It’s all good.)

I do think, however, that they’ve missed one very important aspect of getting your child hooked on reading, and that is…

Set an example.

– How often do your kids see you sitting down with a good book?
– In your home is reading primarily associated with enjoyment or work? (schoolwork, your work, etc.)


P.S. On the same general topic of encouraging your child to read, I’ve just finished reading Jim Trelease’s The Read-Aloud Handbook. I’ll probably write more about this book another time, but his position is that we should read books to our children from their first days of life right through to teenagerhood, for as long as they’ll sit still for it. He argues (strenuously) that we should not stop reading aloud when our kids learn to read for themselves. Having a scheduled read-aloud time is a wonderful way for parents and children to share the reading experience, as well as being an avenue for you to introduce your child to more challenging works – classics and the like – which they may not pick up on their own.

Related posts:

Why I Don’t Hate the Rainbow Fairies

Top 5: Books for Beginning Readers

Top 5: First Chapter Books to Read Aloud to Preschoolers

(Another) Top 5: First Chapter Books to Read Aloud to Children


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Sue Hewitt
    Jan 26, 2012 @ 09:25:59

    I started reading to our youngest when he was in the isolette in NICU. He was there for a little over two weeks, and we passed the time catching up on Harry Potter.

    By the way, happy Family Literacy Day tomorrow.



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All writings posted here are © Kim Thompson, unless otherwise indicated. For all artwork on this site, copyright is retained by the artist.
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