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Raising Kids Who Love to Read

Are certain kids born loving to read?

No - readers are made. Don't get me wrong, some kids have an easier time learning to read than others. Sometimes the struggle really kills the joy. But I want to share the lessons I've learned both as a pediatrician and a Mom of 3 teenagers who all still enjoy reading.

The best way to get kids to love books is to introduce them early and often. I know that in the first year of life babies are typically more interested in eating the books than looking at them, it is important to start looking at books during this time to form the habit and help encourage curiosity. It may only be for a minute each time you pick up a book when they're 6 months old, but if you keep at it, the time will increase with each passing month.

Here are some tips to develop your child's interest in reading:

  • Make it fun/be silly! Read in crazy voices/accents. Make up your own different story to go along with the pictures and/or have them do the same.

  • Make reading a part of your bedtime routine - EVERY night. You can read to your kids as much as you want throughout the day too, but bedtime is a reliable constant and has the added benefit of soothing them to sleep and keeping them off screens which is know to be stimulating.

  • Continue reading aloud to them even after they learn to read.

  • Let them read whatever interests them. When they're little this may mean reading the same book over and over (if it gets to be too much you can always hide it for a couple weeks). When they get older, this may mean letting them read a book you find incredibly stupid. Often kids will enjoy revisiting a book from their younger years - let them!

  • Model reading - Read on your own when/where they can see you

  • Give them a book instead of technology when they're bored waiting for something, in the car, in a restaurant, etc...

  • Encourage older children to read to younger siblings

  • Take them to the library - younger kids especially LOVE getting their own library card (put it on a lanyard for them) and checkout out books

  • Hold them accountable for reading logs in school as they got older. Set a timer on Alexa, your microwave, or a book timer you both can hear as they do their reading and don't sign their log until they've done the reading. Its OK and important to let your kids fail and get a bad grade on this if they haven't done the reading. Make it a home responsibility too that other privileges (like technology) are dependent on. If it is not getting done at night, change your routine and don't allow other activities (playing with friends, sports, games) until the reading is done. Again, especially if they are struggling and/or don't like reading, take turns reading to them and having them read to you - this can ease the stress for them.

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