After several years of chasing my daughter down, with books and reading logs, I’ve finally managed to crack the code, and now she enjoys reading books as much as I do.
Originally, I thought I was doing a great job by constantly encouraging the kids to read; I read to them as well. I kept a variety of children’s books around the house, and made them easily accessible. That’s what most experts advise us to do as parents. Unfortunately, it didn’t work. I still found myself forcing her to read. If I wasn’t being firm about the importance of reading, she wasn’t going to pick up a book. After a while, I transformed from mommy, to monster. It seemed like I was always saying things like “You better read this book, and quit complaining, or you’ll be without T.V., music and everything else you enjoy, for a week. Now set that timer and get to it!”
As you can imagine, that wasn’t ideal. It definitely wasn’t yielding the results I wanted. After all, we want our children to enjoy reading, not feel like reading was a punishment or chore.
So I took a new approach. I began thinking of creative ways to encourage reading. It all started in the kitchen. My daughter loves to bake. So I began including her in on the meal preparation process. If we were making a dish that required multiple steps and ingredients, I’d have her read the instructions from the cook book or from the box.
She eventually developed a passion for reading cookbooks. So when the school book fair rolled around, She started buying cook books (along with AR books) and thumbing through them to find recipes. When she found something she wanted to make, I’d tell her to look at the ingredients and check the kitchen to see if we had the stuff to make the recipe– this was great. Not only was she reading, she was even learning math as well. I also encouraged her to do all of the measuring…”See, fractions are fun after all!”
On Saturday’s, we often go to Starbucks. I get a Latte’ of some sort, and she gets a cup of apple juice + a warm buttered croissant. I soon realized that I could capitalize off of that, so I began planning “Mommy and Me” dates to Barnes & Noble. They not only have warm buttered croissants, but they have an amazing assembly of beautifully assorted, colorful books to choose from. Duh, like why hadn’t I thought of this sooner.
Initially, she wasn’t interested in going to a “Bookstore” because she thought it would be like our trips to the local library which wasn’t very exciting to her.
The cool thing about it was, I had those buttered croissants on my side. I told her that we were going to have fun on a girls only date and that we’d grab croissants while we were there. I also assured her that she didn’t have to get a book if she didn’t want to. You see what I did there… I empowered her. I gave her a choice.
We entered B+N, and I looked through the treasure of books without mentioning a word about my desire for her to pick a book. I gathered the books I wanted to preview, and headed over to the cafe. She eventually asked if we could go to the children’s section, score!
I asked her what she dislikes about reading and she told me that she just didn’t enjoy it because it was boring. That people was my golden opportunity so I went for the win! I told her that reading is only fun when you read stuff that you enjoy. Then I explained why I like reading. I explained that I go to Barnes & Nobles because they have great coffee, I get to relax in the cafe, and that I can pre-read the books to ensure I like them, before I buy. She decided that she wanted to try that method as well. yessir! I let her grab as many books as her little arms could hold. Though I was hoping she would pick up a collection of black history books, I didn’t try to sway her choices. As we spent time in the Cafe, we perused through the pages of our potential buys until she stumbled upon a few books that captured her interest. Hearing her laughter and seeing her face light up as her eyes scrolled the pages made me so happy. She was actually reading without all the fuss.
On our most recent date, she selected two of FOUR books that she was interested in. Now that she’s found her book genre, she looks forward to reading daily and continuing our now, traditional, “Mommy + Me” B+N, daytime-dates, and guess what…. we no longer have those from mommy to monster moments!
What are some of the things you done to encourage reading in your home?