CANDY ALLAN: Raising readers – it was accidental
We are on the edge of March, which is commonly recognized as Reading Month. Somehow, I ended up with two kids who both like to read.
I’m probably just more lucky than smart, but there ARE things parents can do to foster a love of reading in their children according to ahaparenting.com. The article “Raise a child who loves to read” lists 12 suggestions for increasing a love of literacy.
Several of the suggestions run along a common theme: Read to your child early and often, and don’t stop.
Well, I failed at the “don’t stop” part … I hardly ever read to my kids anymore. They do, on occasion, enjoy reading to me, which is great fun on my part. Instead of me trying to read to them while I do something else, THEY read to ME while I’m doing something else.
(This is the part where you’re thinking I should drop whatever and spend time with my children, but the fact is it doesn’t work that way. Some things have to get done – my kids used to read to me a lot while I fixed dinner, for example.)
Mostly, though, I didn’t really DO anything with the plan in mind of raising kids who like to read. I happen to like to read and just read to them as a matter of course.
In fact, reading to the kids got a lot more boring after they were old enough to care about what I was reading to them because then I was stuck with children’s literature. As babies and very young children, a “bedtime story” might have been a news article, a selection of the book I was reading anyway or even the grocery list as I was thinking what we needed.
Don’t get me wrong. There are some fantastic children’s books out there. But there are some really awful ones, too.
I remember a couple of board books that didn’t have sentences, just labels on cartoonish pictures: “window,” “floor,” “door,” and so on. I hated those books … but I spent time with the kids looking at them. We didn’t “read” them … the words were pointless anyway, so we either pointed out colors or made up stories about the orange cat that inhabited this random house.
Maybe it was the time my husband and I spent with the kids involving printed matter. Maybe it was the good books I read to them even though the material “was too old” or “was above their level.”
Whatever it was, even though I didn’t approach parenting with the idea I was going to make my kids love reading, it turned out that way.
I’m so lucky.
Let’s be honest, I’ve been making up this parenting thing as I go along ever since my son was born. I know there’s more experienced parents out there and folks with different ideas. Respond to my column by emailing me at email@example.com.