Kids and reading.

Kids and reading.

Reading and kids.

These two just go together like…peas and carrots.

Yep! I went there. Who else is watching “Forrest Gump” tonight?

I have to be honest with y’all. Not much brings a bigger smile to my face than seeing a child clutching a book.

Babies gumming bath books. Toddlers giggling when they pet a soft bunny in a see-and-say book. Bouncy three-year-olds trying to turn the page of a picture book to find out what happens next. Beginning readers bravely sounding out their first full book. Voracious young readers devouring series like Hank the Cowdog and Magic Tree House. Tweens comprehending through a characters’ experiences how to handle life’s many changes and challenges. Teens grasping how reading through life allows them endless learning potential.

Books fit in every season of life for every person. For every person who lets them, that is.

Adults have an opportunity to encourage kids to read.

This is where parents and other mentoring adults have an opportunity to set their children on the path to be readers for life.

Kids and reading go together, but they sometimes need a guide to get them there.

Now, I’m not writing anything profound here. I haven’t mined any new-to-the-light gold nuggets for you. Today I’m simply sharing my desire to see every kid with books in their hands and smiles on their faces and maybe a few ways you can help the kids in your life join that group.

Some kids aren’t eager readers.

Every kid can be a book lover.

Here’s how I know. I had the privilege of teaching a special kid once. I’m gonna call him Agamemnon.

What? Anyone could choose “Johnny” or “Bob” or “Pete”! I choose to be different.

Anyway, Agamemnon was a typical 11-year-old boy. He loved all screens, considered himself a connoisseur of movies and video games, built Minecraft worlds like a boss and hated to read. Correction: He thought he hated to read.

Enter me. Well, technically, it wasn’t so much ME—it was all J.K. Rowling. But, I take credit for encouraging that book into his hands!

I taught “Hogwarts: The Class” to a group of homeschoolers one semester. We held our own Sorting Ceremony, brewed potions, played Quidditch and read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Not bad for a bunch of Muggles!

The highlight came for me when Agamemnon said to me, “The book was so much better than the movie! It gave me more details, and I got to use my imagination.”

Yes, Agamemnon. Yes, you did.

This kid had seen the movies and knew all about the world of Harry Potter. So, when given the opportunity to read a book that interested him, he took it—and discovered books can, indeed, be better than their movies.

If you have an Agamemnon, think about what drives him. What does he love to do? What interests him? Does he have a favorite movie that started out as a book?

There’s a perfect book for everyone.

See, one of the most awesome things about books is a book exists about pretty much every topic you can come up with.

Love Minecraft? There’s a book for that.

Love trucks? There’s a book for that.

Like to mime? There’s a book for that.

Read the last one as “Like to mine?” There’s a book for that, too!

Interested in getting a dwarf hamster? There’s a book to help you *try to* convince your parents to get you one.

Like zombies? There are *far too many* books with those.

Like the idea of sailing off for adventures? There are enough books like that to carry you for a long time.

If you can’t seem to find a book you think your kiddo would like, let me know! I’d be more than happy to help. Seriously…email me right now!

Why am I so obsessed with kids reading?

Once a child discovers the joy of reading, the universe opens to them; and they inherit a lifetime of learning. No door remains locked to a reader. Reading makes a person a better writer. And, a person who writes well stands head and shoulders above the crowd of college applicants or job interviewees.

Some kids require only the gentlest nudge to become readers.

Now, you may not have an Agamemnon. You might have an “Ann, with an ‘e’.” In that case, I’m with you! I have two! They read constantly!

I’ve discovered my daughter’s lamp still shining strong at 2 a.m. because she “can’t stop reading!”

I’ve watched my son blindly stagger to the van, book permanently affixed in front of his face.

I have many photos of each one sound asleep, hand resting on an open book.

How have I encouraged my kids to be readers?

I’m far from a perfect mom, and I’ve made parenting mistakes that make me want to hide in a cave with a trapdoor to a goblin stronghold; but…I’ll share with you what I think I might have gotten right when it comes to my kids and reading. Perhaps you can incorporate some of these with the kids in your own life whether you’re a parent, teacher, aunt/uncle, mentor, etc.

They see me read.

Most days my kids see me at some point with my nose stuck in a book. Now, sometimes work stacks up; and I have to put clients ahead of the next chapter for a few days. But, even then, there’s a bookmarked story lying on my night stand, patiently awaiting my return.

They often ask me what I’m reading. And, I tell them. I also ask them about what they’re reading. I try to ask specific questions, so I don’t end up with only yes/no answers. Frequently when they see me deep in a book, they grab their own and come snuggle up to read beside me. They also see my husband and I reading together. We’ve read The Hobbit and The Fall of Arthur out loud together, among others.

Reading is a part of everyday life in our house.

Our library is where “everybody knows our name.”

Like I shared in this post, our local library is a happy place where we hang out and I give my kids pretty free reign. We frequently plop mountains of books on the counter, and I’ve been asked more than once if I need help getting to the car.

I challenge them.

Yes, I let my kids read whatever they want—for the most part. (There are a few books or series I’ve said no to, but I always try my best to explain why.) I let them re-check and re-read their favorites, too.

But, I also challenge them. If I feel they’ve had too many sherbet lemons, I ask them to read something more substantial next. I try to give specific options, too. For the most part, they eagerly accept.

We homeschool, so I have an easy opportunity to “require” particular classics or books that pertain to the history or science we are studying. And, anytime our library has a reading challenge, I encourage their participation—summer reading, winter reading, whatever. I also pick up reading challenges I discover online for them, too, from time to time.

We read together.

I’ve read to my kids since before they were born. I was that weirdo reading at my giant belly. We still read together.

Trumpet of the Swan. The Little House on the Prairie series. The Hobbit. All seven Harry Potter books. And so many more. Each word, each dialogue, each adventure we read while snuggling together.

As my kids grow, we will continue to read together. I don’t see us outgrowing this.

Reading is a reward, never a punishment.

I’m going to be totally honest with you guys, and I’m hoping I won’t offend anyone. I write this with a heart full of goodwill and a desire to help. When I hear someone say they use writing or reading as punishment for their kids or students, I cringe. I inwardly release a silent scream. I bite my tongue and choke on my own blood.

Yea…that’s how strongly I feel. (And how much I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.)

Words are beautiful. Writing or copying words teaches a child so much. It develops in them an invaluable skill. (A skill many young adults these days sadly do not possess.) Reading words opens new worlds to a child and teaches them lessons no instructor can.

 

Please don’t put words in a cage. They should never be set loose as the monster in the Coliseum.

That is all.

Be part of a kid’s book memories today.

Before I sign off today, I want to share with you a little about the people who influenced my love of reading the most. I have memories of snuggling with my mom on the sofa, reading books like Anne of Green Gables and articles in our weekly reader. Some Sunday afternoons my dad would read to me from the comics…gotta’ love Snoopy and Charlie Brown!

I had four older siblings who gifted me with books and encouraged me to read. Still, to this day, they encourage me in my writing. I have an aunt who still sends me books on occasion and even sends books to my kids now. She and my sister have been two of my biggest cheerleaders for this blog!

My grandparents usually gave me books for birthdays and Christmases. I have so many beautiful memories of reading with my Grandpa or of talking to him about books and writing. He encouraged me so much in my writing, and I miss him every day. He would love this little blog of mine, I think.

You can be part of a kid’s fond memories of books and reading one day, too. Whether you have an Agamemnon or an Ann with an “e,” put a book in their hands today! You won’t regret it, and they’ll thank you…one day.

 

We all have kids in our lives, whether they call us Mom, Dad, Aunt, Uncle, Teacher or Neighbor. How do you encourage reading for the kids in your life? What challenges have you seen to their becoming readers? What successes have you seen?

Kids and reading go together so well. Every kid can be a book lover given the proper encouragement.
Kids and reading go together so well. Every kid can be a book lover given the proper encouragement.

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