1. Plan for reading time – and protect it.
One of the best ways I have found to stir up interest and excitement in reading in my home is to take 10-15 minutes a day and read a great story out loud to my kids. If the chapters are long, I simply watch for a good stopping point somewhere in my time frame.
I pick an interesting story that will catch their interest, and then guard my reading time with them as I would an important appointment.
2. Be creative with when and how!
One time we often read is at lunch or breakfast while my kids are eating. (I eat quickly beforehand.) Or we read at the beginning of our school day, after our initial prayer-and-morning-huddle time. This reading is the fun, adventurous chapter-book kind of story.
I also read a short devotional book most nights – I think it’s important to help my children have something that will help turn their thoughts toward God before sleep (a family favorite is “Stories to Share“, by Patricia St. John – full of interesting short stories that create opportunity for thoughtful, deep, and precious conversations!).
Another way to keep reading time is to turn on an audio book during coloring or art time – we have listened through several of the Chronicles of Narnia books in this way when I was dealing with a bad cold and my voice was too hoarse for reading aloud.
One of my dear friends used to read to her older children while she was nursing the baby. She was sitting down and unable to move for that amount of time anyway, and her children loved getting some of mama’s love and attention during those days when the baby took a lot of energy!
3. Intentionally create space for books and comfy places to read.
Clear out toys that are lesser-used or outgrown, and place a sturdy yet pretty basket or bin for books from the library. Designate a corner as “the Reading Corner” and collect floor cushions, a small bean bag, a cozy blanket, and a short bookshelf or two! (Make sure there’s enough light!)
One of my husband’s fondest memories as a child was his 2nd Grade teacher’s classroom: It had a large bathtub filled with pillows, and was dubbed “The Reading Tub”. Students who earned enough points won the privilege of “Time in the Tub” – and it was a greatly coveted activity! (What a brilliant teacher, right?)
What can you do in your home and life to make reading fun, exciting, and easily accomplished? You don’t have to put a tub in your living room (unless you really want to!), but any cozy place that feels quiet and safe, designated for reading and books, will be appreciated and used.
4. Have your children make a list
My kids create “wish lists” of topics they are interested in, then I search online at our library for books on those topics. When the books come in, all the kids are so excited to go with me to pick them up at the curbside delivery at our local library! It’s like receiving a happy package in the mail!
Be observant. Listen and watch your kids as you read other books, as you watch films, as you listen to conversations. What interests them? What creates questions that they ask? That is likely a great place to start with book ideas. A section on Japan in my son’s history book created an interest in ninjas. Another chapter triggered much research on Charlemagne – all additional reading which was not part of his assigned school work. But because he was interested – it was fun!
5. Encourage reading through example!
Excitement about learning is more often caught than taught. Your young child will naturally imitate what they see most modeled by you. So if you want them to love books and reading and learning… guess what you need to show them is important to you?
Children will hear what you say but will more likely copy what you do. To create space for reading in your home, you as a parent need to first create space for reading in your own life.
Set a timer and read for 10 minutes a day for yourself. Or start with just 5! You will be amazed at how many books you can get through in a year. And you will be feeding your own heart and mind with new ideas, interesting information, and great thoughts.
And a quick little bonus point:
LIMIT SCREEN TIME.
The more that your children are in front of a screen with moving pictures, the less reading they will actually do. And the screen will also limit how much they feel like reading. (This is true for you too, my friend.)
So I set a limited time for screens in our home – because there is an incredibly interesting connection that happens between increase of screentime and increase of bad attitudes, whining, bickering, boredom, and disobedience. But maybe that’s just my punks.
Which of the ideas above are you going to choose to start putting into practice in your home and family? I’d love to hear which one struck you most!
And if this post was helpful or encouraging to you, would you please share it on your social media pages? Thank you so much!