Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Raising A Child That Loves To Read

Here on this blog, I usually push the humor button, but today I needed to post this article about teaching your kids to love reading.  I am about to take my child to story time at our local library, and I thought this would be a great time to publish this guest post from Dan Gilbert.  Dan is the Communications Coordinator from Primrose Schools.  He found me on Twitter (@DanGilbert66) and asked if I needed any guest posts for my blog.  I researched Primrose Schools, and I really liked their approach to learning.  Given the expertise of the Primrose program, I decided to let Dan have a go at my audience, knowing that you would be in good hands.

How to Raise a Child that Loves to Read (Even if You Don't)

With more dual-income households than ever before, many parents find themselves having to pick and choose the ways in which they spend time with their children. Even parents that are “stay at home parents” find themselves asking, “How important is reading, really?” they may ask themselves at the end of an exhausted evening. Unfortunately for these parents, the answer is “extremely” - there is virtually no greater impact you can have on your child’s future education and success.

Robert Needlman, M.D., author of Dr. Spock’s Baby Basics and member of the Advisory Board for Primrose Schools Education, suggests that one of the most important things about nurturing a reader is to read with a child from a very early age. 

“There’s no prescription for this, the only prescription is to allow some time each day that you can sit down, connect with your child, and read together.” Primrose Preschools realize that young children may learn to love reading right away, but for others the love and excitement of reading may develop over time Dr. Needlman says, “the main thing is to allow it to occur in a way that’s joyful, that conveys enjoyment to the child – from enjoyment the rest will follow.”

Studies show again and again that children who are read to regularly or encouraged in the act of reading for themselves not only develop stronger bonds with their parents, but have better language and communication skills throughout their lives. Reading also helps build their imagination and attention spans. Studies even suggest that children who read are more capable of calming themselves down when they get anxious or upset, and can even also and even hold higher paying jobs; a U.S. Department of Education study recently announced that 85% of all juvenile offenders have reading problems.

And yet, many parents who are well aware of these statistics still do not read with their children because they are not readers themselves or do not know where to begin. In 2001, the National Institute for Literacy found that more than 20 percent of adults read at or below a fifth-grade level, and that roughly half of adults do not have the reading comprehension levels necessary to understand the label on a bottle of prescription medication.

If you are trying to raise a reader, begin with these tips to help build an engaging literacy-rich environment that will equip your child with the tools necessary to succeed:

- Start early by reading to your child in the womb; it gets parents used to reading as part of their child’s daily existence, and also helps them practice if they are not used to reading aloud.

 - Set a goal for at least one reading activity daily, from reading children’s books to them in infancy through having them read newspaper articles aloud as they get older.

 - Make reading part of a discussion. Talking about what you’ve just read is a critical component of ensuring children can retain information and then communicate it.

 - Sign your child (and yourself) up for a library card. This ensures that you have a large selection of books to borrow from, for free, and also gives your child a quiet place to read or study outside of their home, as they get older.

 - Take advantage of the moment. Always keep books, magazines, or newspapers available for can or airplane trips as well as periods when you and your children are simply waiting. They help pass the time, and further integrate the act of reading into daily life.

 - Communicate with your child’s teacher. Make sure you and their reading or English teacher are on the same page, and that you understand where your child’s difficulties are and the ways in which you can help.

 - Try, try, try again. If your child exhibits a dislike of reading, try something else, and then something else. (And then something after that!) Eventually, your child will settle on a particular series of novels or types of reading that they truly enjoy and will love for life.

And remember, you are not alone. There are many resources to help you, including after-school programs, library groups, and online support forums. No matter what tactics you try, make sure that reading is a positive experience for your children; it may be the single biggest factor in their future happiness.


  1. I still can remember my parents reading with me as a youngster and know that is the main reason that I love to read so much as an adult! Personally, I think that this is one of the most important things you can do with your child, plus since I work at Random House, I encourage reading for the whole family!

  2. Thanks for sharing Melody! I think everyone that enjoys reading has a special memory or favorite book that helped them fall in love with it. I can vividly remember reading "The Fly Away Kite" as a child and still have very fond memories of "choose your own adventure" and Encyclopedia Brown books in elementary school.

  3. We've been reading to our 3 year-old daughter since she was a few weeks old. She loves books and will quite happily take her self off and "read" during the day and *demands* her stories at bedtime.

    I think she has over 100 books of her own now.

  4. Some of the best early times with my daughter were taking her to storytime at our local library - we started when she was 9 weeks old! And don't underestimate how much these early trips out of the house and socialising with other parents helped Mummy too! At nearly 3 my daughter loves books, and we just bought her a second bookcase to house them. Thanks for such an informative and encouraging post!

  5. Prawn & Carolyn - I am amazed by your ability to collect mass quantities of books for your children and actually read with them! Thanks for commenting, and keep up the good work! We need more readers out there!

  6. Awesome article on such an important topic - showing our children how wonderful reading can be is one of the best gifts we can give them!

  7. Thanks Karen! The folks at Primrose really know what they're doing. Check them out if you haven't already.

  8. Thanks for all of the wonderful comments everyone! I am glad you enjoy the article! Definitely check out our site, and if you can follow me on twitter I would love to keep in touch and read all your tweets & blogs as well. - Feel free to ask me any questions!

    Dan Gilbert

  9. Audiobooks have always helped us. They engage the imagination far more than TV. It's a good half step towards getting them to read. There are lots of sites to download them, but we use this one a lot because the stories are all free and original. Here is the link if anyone is interested.



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