How to Raise Readers

How to Raise Readers

The very first purchases I made when I found out I was pregnant were The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Good Night Moon. A decade later, I can finally confidentially say my children love reading. I am actually raising readers. It happened in their own time and has taken so much work, but by what seems like some magic spell, this year it has clicked for both of them.

Some of my best childhood memories involve reading with my parents. I have always made it a priority to create the same bond with my own kids. This week, I had a unicorn moment. A rare glimmer of hope proving at least some of the intentional choices I have made as a parent are paying off, and that it has been so worth the effort.

It came in two parts. The first time after baseball practice, with my six year old son.  I overheard him chatting with a friend, planning a play date to read the new Dogman book, and then going on and on about all the funny anecdotes from the Judy Blume book we were reading. The second time was with my nine year old daughter. We walked into the new Barnes and Nobles in Elmwood, and she beelined straight for the young reader section, where I realized in amazement she had read at least one of nearly every graphic novel series on the shelf. She found the second Percy Jackson book and carried it all around the store telling me how much she loved the first one they had been reading in class. She had already read ahead of everyone and was nearly finished, and she couldn’t wait to get started with the next one in the series. In both moments, my kids showed me they independently loved reading. 

How it Happened:

📕Read Together

I read to my kids nearly every night, even if it is just for 5 minutes. Consistency is more important than duration.

📕Make it Feel Important

I am intentional about the quality of the time we spend reading. I put my phone away. I read to them at bedtime, and it is our only one on one time. They are not competing for attention with their sibling.

📕Let them Choose the Book

We go to the library often. I let them check out as many books as they want. They often sit in a pile on their floors and they don’t touch half of them. Here is the thing – knowing they are there, that they have choices, gives them control of something and makes it feel special.

📕Take Advantage of the Library

Speaking of the library, use it. We go to as many events and programs as we can. The Jefferson Parish Library system has so much to offer. My kids love to go to Reading to Rover, an event once a month where they read to service dogs. We attend craft events, board game days, and summer reading programs. Even if the books are not their initial motivation, the activities and events create a positive association to reading. 

Also, the Jefferson Parish Library offers a couple of apps where you can check out audiobooks – Libby and Hoopla. These are perfect for the nights I am sick or too tired to read, the children want a change of pace, or for planning a road trip. Yes, audiobooks absolutely still count in my opinion.

Pro Tip:  Hoopla also offers tons of movies and music albums, all for free with your library card. 

📕Don’t Force It

If my kids don’t want to read one night, we simply skip it. If I tell them it is quiet time and to go read, and I walk in their rooms and they are playing instead – I do not scold them – I may redirect sometimes. If they lose interest in a book, we stop reading it. I want reading to be a positive experience for them.

📕Model Reading

Let them catch you getting lost in a book, unwilling to put it down, captivated by what happens next. Don’t overcomplicate it. My usual choice is audiobooks, because I can listen while I do chores.

📕Make it Enjoyable for You, Too

I often suggest books from my own childhood I loved. I never took the time to read Harry Potter or watch the movies when they came out originally, so my daughter and I have been reading one a year since she was in second grade, in between other books. We are nearly finished with the third, and we are going to go see the movie while the LPO plays the soundtrack live in a few weeks. I have been loving it as much, maybe more than her.

Carly Daigle
Carly moved to New Orleans the year the Saints won the Super Bowl, fell in love with this city, and has claimed it as her home ever since. She is a single mom to two kids, ages 6 and 9. She holds a BA in Theology, and has loved writing since she was a little girl. When she is not doing laundry, you can find her taking a nap, reading, or doing an art project with her kiddos.


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