February 9, 2012

Love of Reading: 5 Ways to Pass It On

Jessica's note: This is a guest post written by Stephanie of Metropolitan Mama. Go check out Stephanie's blog -- and make sure you don't miss any posts in the Love of Reading series!

When I think of my childhood, I think of bunk beds and bicycles. I taste cranberry salad
and oatmeal fudge. I hear the pledge of allegiance and the strumming of a guitar. I smell
gardenias and chlorine from the public swimming pool.

I see…BOOKS. My parents had a huge wall-to-wall white bookshelf. I would trace the
titles with my fingers, knowing full well that I’d already read all of them.

In my free time, I would climb up a tree in our backyard – with a book.

More often than not, I would fall asleep – with a book beneath the covers.

Now that I have two (soon-to-be-three!) girls of my own, it’s a delight to watch as they
fall in love with reading too.

Photo found here.
Because my husband and I acknowledge the power of literacy, we are both veryintentional about creating a conducive environment for book adoration to blossom.

Here’s how:
  1. We read to them. On any given day, we read between 15-40 books aloud. We read in the morning, midday, and at night. We especially read to them at bedtime. Our 2-year-old almost always slips off to slumber in the middle of a story.
  2. We read ourselves. Tim enjoys theology, business, and leadership books. I like a mix of non-fiction and fiction - particularly bestsellers, fast-paced novels, and biographies. Although I usually pick up my books post-bedtime, I also sometimes read as the girls play in the sandbox or in their princess gowns.
  3. We take them to the library. Our current rate is about three times a week. One of my friends often remarks that the public library system is one of the best public institutions – and I couldn’t agree more!
  4. We make it a point to introduce quality books. There are a lot of really outstanding children’s books in the world…but there are even more awful ones! Thus, I research books ahead of time and reserve them online via my local library system. That way, we are assured of having well-written and beautifully illustrated texts amidst any books that our girls choose.
  5. We don’t read with “the boring voice.” On the contrary, we do voices (you should hear my “wicked witch” voice – so scary!), use big expressions, and ask questions. Storytelling is a skill and sharpening it is essential.
I especially love Stephanie's last point -- but my problem is that whenever I try and do different voices it almost always comes out sounding like a bad British accent. Poor Eleanor is going to think that most of her books are populated by bizarre Cockneys!

What do YOU do to inspire your kids to appreciate and treasure books?