My friend Amy Bunnell Hearst loves
books, and as a mother of two she is always searching for ways to
pass on her love of reading to her children.
Not by forcing them to read (which could easily backfire)
but by really engaging them in the joy and wonderment of
And as she explains in this article, the first step is to
just lead by example…..
I'm such a tough self-critic. Sometimes it is difficult
for me to praise myself or appreciate the things I do right.
That being said, I don't consider myself a perfect parent - far
from it. I am much too impatient to be a Perfect
Mother, if there is such a thing.
However, there are a few gifts my children have been given from
me. One of my proudest accomplishments is that both of my
children love books and love to read (as much as you can when
you're five and seven years old).
I remember after my son was born I found an article entitled
"How to raise a reader." That article is now tattered and
upstairs in one of our junk drawers.
But I wanted to know - how do I pass along to my children this
love of books I possess? How does one raise a reader?
For me, it was fairly simple. I continue to do what I love
and then pass it on to them - lead by example. I'll
show you what I do and maybe you can incorporate some of these
things into your daily lives with your children.
1. Set guidelines around
the house. I grew up in a household where it was taboo to
have a television in your bedroom. We have that same rule in our
house today, much to my husband's dismay.
Everything I've read says watching television in your bedroom is
not a good thing. Bedrooms should be used for sleeping and
other things you do in bedrooms, not watching
The stimulus of the lighting can cause your body to wake up
instead of start to settle down in preparation of sleep. None
of our bedrooms have televisions - they all have a variety of books
2. In the mornings, I read the newspaper. The
television rarely comes on, except lately for Bin Laden coverage
and William/Kate's wedding.
Nathan and Libby both like to read me the weather for the
week. I let them find things in the newspaper during
breakfast if we have time - a few things in the newspapers appeal
to kids - a mention of Justin Bieber's latest tattoo or romp with
Selena Gomez, a picture of SpongeBob SquarePants, human interest
stories involving animals.
Nathan loves to look at maps and learn more about where things
are in our city - you can find quite a few maps in the daily
3. Go to the library. Our local library
is pretty awesome - it doesn't look like much, but the contents are
great. I can go online and reserve books for the kids (and
me!) ahead of time and then all I have to do is pick them up.
In addition to finding books for the kids in the fiction
section, they book love the nonfiction section, too.
Sometimes I will chose a few subjects I know they like (sharks, the
state of Illinois, space) then pick up several books on the same
I'm sure as they progress in school and need to do book reports
and school projects, this won't be as cool, but for now they love
it. (The subject of tornados and severe weather has been
puzzling for both of my children, so we have been researching
tornados to gather books and information on them.)
4. Don't have a DVD player in your car. If you
do, only turn it on for long trips (like a driving trip). We
really encourage our kids to look out the window.
From the time they were young, we would ask them, "What do you
see? Tell us." Don't limit their minds to viewing a cartoon
DVD. Let their minds look around and know their
5. Let them choose their books at night. Let me
tell you, I know how boring it is to read the same Scooby Doo book
five nights in a row. Somehow maybe that consistency is
soothing to your child. And know this will pass.
6. I tell them how excited I am to get into bed with my
book (I really am!). I just finished reading three
terrific books in a row. My husband is pretty tired of
hearing me talk about how great each book was, but really, they
were all so good.
7. If you like reading, try to find a book club and
join. One of my favorite things about my bookclub (besides
the great company, good food, and awesome wine) is that fact that I
am challenged to reads books I might not normally read. My
book club encourages me to get out of my comfort zone. Then I
come home and tell my family about bookclub and then fun I
have. My children associate reading with fun.
Here are a few of my children's favorite books
Nathan, age 7:
The Magic Tree House books. Any of the Scaredy Squirrel
books, Amazing Animals (Barron's publisher), Star Wars the Visual
Dictionary, any of the Shel Silverstein poetry books (he got
one for Christmas and I gave him one of mine from when I was
little), Calvin and Hobbes comic books, any of the Marvel comic
books, Star Wars The Clone Wars Character Encyclopedia (they both
fight over this one.)
Libby, age 5:
The Herbie Bear Readers (levels 1- 4), Scooby-Doo books, Ladybug
Girl by David Somar & Jakcy Davis (or any of the Ladybug
books), But No Elephants by Jerry Smath (old book, very
clever), Bear Wants More by Karma Wilson & Jane Chapman (or any
in this series), Mercer Mayer books (such as Me and My Cousin -
again, these are old, but good), Richard Scarry books (such as Cars
& Trucks & Things that Go).
My favorite books, age 39: Mudbound by Hillary
Jordan, Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin, Left Neglected by Lisa
Genova, The Heights by Peter Hedges, The Abstinence Teacher by Tom
Perrotta (or anything by him - he is a terrific writer), The
Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson, All the Living by C.E. Morgan.
I could go on and on....there are so many good books to
Looking for a great summer read? Email Amy at [email protected], I'm sure
she'll have a suggestion!
Cathy Adams is a certified parenting coach, yoga instructor and mother to three girls.
See more of Cathy's stories here.
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