One thing you may not know about me is I homeschool my kids. You know the part about homeschooling that overwhelmed and scared me the most?
It wasn’t teaching math, though it should have been. Teaching long division about did me in for my older two. Thank goodness I haven’t hit that stage yet with the younger two!
It wasn’t teaching them how to write, because I knew if they read, they would eventually fall in love with word.s
It was teaching them how to read. That. Was. Terrifying.
If I messed that up, nothing else would work…well, except for math, but remember long division? Ugh!
My undergrad degree is in political science and history. Nary a class in teaching reading. My law degree and MBA don’t help either. Yet somehow I have four kids who love books with a passion. The best bribe for any of them is the next book in a favorite series. And when your almost five-year-old begs to go to Barnes & Noble so he can get the next Magic Treehouse book to read, it’s hard to say no.
Many people would tell you reading is a dying art. That kids simply aren’t doing it. I don’t believe them.
I believe there are a host of kids who have never had an adult read to them before they hit school, and that makes me sad. I believe there are kids that have never discovered the fun of a novel read aloud to them with all kinds of goofy voices just for fun. I believe there are kids who would inhale books if someone would help them understand the mystery of how letters fit together to become words. And I know there are some kids who need extra help to have the mystery translated in a way that works for their brains.
But as I unpack yet another box of books, give away a second, and see the four large boxes of children’s books that desperately need a bookshelf home, I know and am so grateful that each of my kids delights in reading the written word. That is a gift no one can ever take away from them.
- Read outloud to your kids constantly. And not always books that are at their age. I started when my kiddos were newborns. We’d snuggle up at night and read Dr. Seuss ABC and Are You My Mother board books. But then as they got older I kept reading. And I read up. Challenge your kids to learn new things and try new things. Read from a variety of genres and styles.
- Read outloud with voices and like your acting. What has been fascinating is that all of my kids now do this naturally…even the almost 5 year old. He instinctively use inflection and voices for different characters.
- Read voraciously yourself. Rather than turning on the TV, model reading a book. My husband reads almost as much as I do and much more broadly. There are bookshelves in almost every room of the house — except the dining room and kitchen. And one might have to go into the dining room soon! Which leads me to…
- Have all kinds of books available to them. It’s only with my third that I have a child who is interested in biographies. It doesn’t mean I haven’t had a couple shelves of biographies all along. We’ve also had Tin-Tin and the classics. We’ve had the new classics. We’ve had books of all styles, genres, time periods, fiction, nonfiction, etc. It’s all been good and given them opportunities to try books until they find ones they like.
- Keep offering books. If there’s an author or book you are convinced your child needs to read and they refuse, keep offering. Over and over if you need to. I loved the Grandma’s Attic series as preteen and early teen. My oldest refused. I kept offering them to her, and when she finally tried them, she inhaled the series in a week. Literally. So don’t give in. She’s been more stubborn with Anne of Green Gables, so I finally made it a read-aloud for all of us to enjoy together. And guess what? I’ve actually caught her laughing in spite of herself!
As an extra benefit, here are my kids favorite series:
the two-weeks-until-he’s-twelve year-old: Percy Jackson (really my husband, 15 and 12 year olds, and I love Rick Riordan’s Greek and Roman series), Andrew Klavan, Warrior Cats (I don’t understand), Gregor the Overlander, and anything by Brandon Mull.
the almost 5 year old: (yes, he is reading!) Magic Tree House in order of course, Clifford the Big Red Dog, and anything that I will read aloud to him…he has to read a paragraph every couple pages though.
What do/did your kids like to read?