Saturday, July 23, 2011

Mags said: Raising a reader.

When Robbie was about 2 years old I was asked by an acquaintance how we got Robbie to love books so much.  I really didn't know what to say other then we always had books around.

When I was pregnant I would read to the bump.  When I found books on sale I would buy them.  By the time Robbie was born he had a small collection of books.  When Robbie was about 3 months old my mother-in-law gave us two big boxes of Sean's old books.  I read daily to Robbie since the day he came home from the hospital.

When he was about 4 months old I took Robbie to a program called "Books for Babies".   Through the four week program and books that I read I learned the most important thing to do to raise a reader was to have books around.  We had tons of books around!  The book shelf in Robbie's room was full of books and then there were about 3 tall book shelves with mostly my books.  The other information I learned was to let kids see you read.  No problem there!  I am a huge reader, I would rather read then watch tv and Robbie certainly sees me read.

Our local library has a program for babies to get a free board book with their first library card.  In his first year we went to the library a lot, mostly so I could get out of the house.  I would sit in the comfy chairs in the library and feed Robbie while flipping through magazines.  We took out a few books but I was never comfortable with sharing board books with strangers.

We started a bed time routine with reading at least one story, now we read for 30 minutes (most nights) with Robbie doing some of the reading.

We read a variety of books, fiction and non-fiction.  Robbie likes all books and reading the non-fiction stuff I get to learn a lot of things.  Yes, there are times that we have read the same book over and over and over again.  However, this has lead to Robbie recognizing words.  Robbie started reading just after he turned 4 (I read before my 4th birthday).  In kindergarten, Robbie was the only child reading until way after Christmas.  Right now it is estimated that he reads at a grade 3-4 level!  Not bad for a 6 year old.

So, how do you raise a reader?  I don't know but we did something right!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Sean Said: Raising a Reader

There are somethings which Margaret and I have gotten right as parents, and some we have gotten wrong. But cheif among those in the right pile has been our efforts to help Robbie be a reader.

Teaching a child to love reading is one of the greatest gifts you can give him. And for that reason it has been a focus of ours since day one. We wanted to raise a reader - a child who could read at a young age, and would want to read for his whole life.

How does one teach a child to love books? Here's ten tips:

#1 Read

This may sound simple, but all too often parents seem to overlook the importance of modeling a behavior they wish to foster in their children. If you want to raise a reader, then your children need to see you reading. The more often the better. The more different types of material the better.

#2 Have Books

If you only have a handful of books in your home, it will be an uphill battle to foster a love a reading. Ideally their should be books in every room of your house, plus your car. You kid needs to see books everywhere and never need to go more than a few step if he decides he is in the mood to read.

#3 Read to Your Child Daily

From birth, or even earlier you should get in the habit of reading. It builds the habit in both of you. Even before an infant can understand words he can recognize that there is a certain rhythm associated with book reading. A familiarity with that rhythm can create a love for it.

#4 Read to Your Child Whenever Asked

Something children understand from a very young age is what gets their parents' attention. Do your best to drop everything every time your child asks to be read to. Don't ever brush them off and they will understand that reading is important and they will instinctively want to do it.

#5 Make Books Available

In #2 I mentioned you should have books in the car. Bring them everywhere you want your child to be occupied. If started at a young age this will pay huge dividends, not only in the reading it encourages, but also by not filling your child's life with other devices which are just expensive time wasters.

#6 Promote All Levels of Books

At any given time some books will be above your child's level, and some below. Read both. There may be some that are just too far removed as to be of any benefit, but the range should still be a broad one.

#7 Go to the Library

No matter how many books you might have, the library will have more. Take your child their regularly. It will expose them to a broader world.

#8 Buy Books as Gifts

What you choose to buy your children as gifts says a lot to them about your values. Make you say that reading is important every chance you get.

#9 Treat Reading as a Privileged

When a child has been naughty, make reading something that you sometimes take away. (we take away story time if Robbie is very naughty right before bed time) Children are naturally drawn to things which are identified as privileges.

#10 Throw Everything at Them and See What Sticks

Don't have too many preconceived notions about what your child should be reading. Expose your child to every type of reading you can and let them decide if they like it or not.

#11 Bonus Tip

There are a lot of gimmicky things in recent years which purport to help your child read. I highly advise against them. Some can actually negatively impact your child's reading ability, while others can help the child learn to read but won't help him learn to love reading. The best methods are the simple ones. Read to your child and with your child every day.