Monday, January 30, 2012

5 Ways to Help Someone LOVE Reading

I've written about some ways to encourage a hatred of reading, but now I'm moving on to something different: ways to help someone LOVE reading! This is something that's close to my heart, as despite being a "late reader" (or perhaps because of it, as there's never been anything negative in my life associated with reading), I am a very avid one, and have been since first I cracked open a novel to read myself. So how did this happen? What things in my life (and things I've seen in others lives) have contributed to this deep love I have for the written word? Here are a few of the ways I think can help foster a love of reading...

My father loves reading, too.

1. Read aloud. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of my mother and sister and I curled up together with a good book. Long before I was was reading myself, and apparently even before I was born, my mother would read aloud. Thus, long before I could read myself, I loved listening to others do so. If you don't take much joy in reading aloud yourself, audio books are another great way to listen to the written word, either alone or together with your kids (or your parents!). They were a big favorite especially on road trips!

2. Go to the library. A lot. Ah, the library. Growing up, we'd make weekly trips there, spending hours between the isles, flipping through countless books and piling those we decided we wanted to bring home onto a table we'd claimed as our own (a table placed there for studying, but to us is seemed far more useful as a surface to cover with stacks of books). I remember how excited my sister was when she turned five and could get her own library card! She'd regularly max it out at 50 books, way more than her petite self could manage, leaving her mother and older sister to wobble out the doors with rows of bags filled with heavy books on their shoulders.

3. Talk about books and stories. Being able to share something with others almost always adds enjoyment to whatever it is you're doing, and reading is no different. I remember my mother commenting on multiple occasions that she didn't really get he point of requiring book reports, since she heard verbally all about whatever books me or my sister were reading! And we still do that: tell each other about the stories we're currently involved in, talk about characters and where the plot might be going and things we like or don't like about the writing style. Talking about books and stories is fun.

4. Build a home library I counted bookcases in our house once, and lost count in our very cluttered basement after number 16 (seriously, I'm not kidding). Science-fiction novels share shelf space with cookbooks, tarot reading manuals, books on the history of locomotives, horse breeds, and a huge variety of other subjects. I'm lucky to have grown up in a house were my parents had already been collecting books for years, and to have been a part of continuing that collection through going to new and used book stores, garage and library sales, asking for books for various holidays, etc. Not everyone has the space or money for as large a home library as we do (I'm not sure we have the space, either, to be honest, but we fit them in anyway), and regularly going to the library can serve almost as well. But having a home library, collecting books on various subjects, can create such a wonderful environment for reading.

5. Surround yourself/your kids with a variety of books. Check out a new section at the library, pick up a book at the neighbors yard-sale on a subject or in a genre that you've never read before. Bring home books you think your children might be interested in. Books lying around about all different things are exciting, and can be a wonderful introduction to new things, new worlds, new ideas.

These are just a few (very much overlapping) things that I truly believe can contribute to a love of reading. However, seeing as people are ultimately individuals with different passions, interests, and ways they enjoy spending their time, some people will grow up with all of these encouraging-a-love-of-books-things in their lives and just not be very into reading, while others will have none of this yet become voracious readers. 

I'm sure I missed some good ones in my list, so please, comment! What are some other ways to help someone love reading?


  1. As a parent, I make a point to tell my daughter when I'm reading for pleasure. With all the electronic choices, sometimes she doesn't know if I'm checking facebook or reading an article, so I show and tell her. I think this modelling is very important in showing her that reading isn't just for kids but something to enjoy throughout life.

  2. Our youngest has just turned two and doesn't seem to like bookcases. The best place for his books is the living room floor so that any time he wants one to read it is easy to find just the right one. Spend time with Mum or Dad grab a book. Waiting for Mum or Dad grab a book. He loves his home and library books. Yes he already has his own library card.

  3. Dear Idzie,

    you're absolutely right ! Those are excellent ways to help our children love reading. All we love, really love, show an example of someone doing what he loves to do and I think that's the most important.

    My children love to read, not the same things, not the same ways, and it's all right. I LOVE to read, has my husband like it but prefer to spend more time watching movies, and it's all right too !

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and ideas !


  4. Wonderful suggestions here, Idzie! I feel the heart of our unschooling lifestyle is books and stories. It's how both my children and I learn best anyway. Everyday we gather together for at least an hour and read with each other. Right now we just finished the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I was beyond excited to share with my kids one of my absolute favorite series when I was a kid.

  5. Yes to everything here.
    I've often told children stories about the times that I've taught myself to do things from books & gone & done it; built boats, housebuilding, gardening ... or just found a book that has become a friend & always sits by my bed. On rainy days, or quiet afternoons, we "down tools" to sit quietly and read our own books, or write, draw or snooze.
    Sometimes I read aloud with great flourish & theatre & make myself look totally stupid. That's fun too.

  6. We live in a small two bedroom apartment yet we have six tall bookcases full. We love books!

  7. Great suggestions. It goes without saying, of course, that you don't have to do all of these things to have kids that love reading. My mother never read out loud to us at all and I am an avid reader and I was very bad at doing this with my kids, but so far my nearly 18 year old is a keen reader (he recently read the unabridged version of The Count of Monte Christo, and other classics, among a host of other books.) My 14 year old daughter is an obsessive reader and is currently writing a novel.

    One other thing that I would add is to get comfortable with the idea that children seem to develop a love of reading best when they are given the freedom and encouragement to read what they want to. I've seen too many parents, even the occasional unschooling parent, trying to push their children away from certain genres and styles, or low quality writing, that they feel aren't worthwhile or making value judgements about these kinds of books, whilst trying to push them towards certain works that they consider to be canonical.

    It's the most amazing feeling, seeing your 9 and 11 year old sons fighting with each other because one of them had started a book that the other didn't finish, even if it's the Diary of a Wimpy Kid ;-) BTW, I have no problem with that book myself, but this kind of criticism is exactly the kind of judgement I was talking about:
    "While I agree that non-readers may well read Diary of a Wimpy Kid, the question is, what exactly does that accomplish? I’m skeptical that such a book is going to help any child graduate to literature that is actually worth reading."

    1. Ha, I see that i mirrored one of your points in your how to make kids hate reading post. Oh well, it's a point that can't be repeated too often...

  8. I cannot tell you how much I needed to read this. I am beginning our homeschooling journey and leaning towards unschooling. I need to let go of my self helped me with this. Thank you!

  9. It's a bit different for my 5.5 yr old and my 13 yr old. My daughter (5.5 yr old) loves books (mostly for looking at pics and us reading to her). My Son (13 yr old) read like crazy when we had him in school (they had a contest). After we took him out he stopped reading. It was a motivational thing and not real. So I'm happy to see him not read now - not feel pressured. I'm just curious if there are others out there going through deschooling with their kids and how long it took before they decided to read for themselves, i.e. for pleasure. He currently plays Runescape as much as he can which is an amazing game (needing several skills). I guess he doesn't have time to read right now. :) But I definitely do not want to encourage anything now as I don't want him to take it the wrong way. Thoughts?

  10. I read this post a few days ago and still remembering things about it. Love it.

  11. This is helpful - you have given me things to think about. My 6yo is unschooled and slowly learning as if if he is finding the pieces and he will make the puzzle later. :) He can't yet read but his comprehension is amazing to me.

  12. Thank you so much!! Without you, I would be at complete mind-blankness as to how I should encourage my little sister to read. Although I ABSOLUTELY LOVE Reading, I doubt my sister feels the same way. Had it not been for you, she would have never even picked up a book let alone enter her schools reading competition and WIN :D Thanks