If you don't know me already, it's pretty obvious I LOVE to read. There's nothing quite like walking into Indigo and seeing shelves upon shelves of books, I could spend hours, if not a full day there. So when I learned I was pregnant, my love for books grew even more, if that's even possible. The thought that I will now be able to share some of my favorite children's classics with my new addition and also embark on new reads, brought a smile to my face.
It got me thinking, how did I get into reading? I couldn't remember if it was instilled in me while growing up or if it was just something I grew to enjoy. In today's world, with all the technology and social media available, I wanted to make sure this pure and innocent act was not lost for my kid. Raising a reader is not a difficult thing to do, in fact, it's quite enjoyable. I personally don't think you have to love reading yourself either, but it could actually turn into a habit you learn to appreciate and take pleasure in. So here are some of my tips on how to raise a reader:
1. It's Never Too Early To Start
I started reading out loud to my belly when I was very early in my pregnancy. It started out with me reading the book I was engrossed in at the time. As time went on, I started picking up books for when he arrived and started reading them once or twice a day to my belly. It was strange, I'm not going to lie.
Once he was born and we had settled into our new life, I read to him while he slept on me or laid next to me about 2-3 times a day. It was not after very long, I started to see little expressions on his face that couldn't help me think he was enjoying this.
2. Let Them See You Read
Show your kids that reading is a part of YOUR life and that it's not just an item to check off your list of things to do. I always tend to carry a book with me wherever I go; you never know if your car's gonna break down, or your kiddo is going to fall asleep in the stroller and you'll need to pass some time. So when we leave the house and gathering our things to take with us, I'll try to make a casual announcement, "Oops I forgot my book. Q hang on, mom just needs to grab her book." It's something super minor, but shows him the value of reading in my life. He's actually gotten to the point now where he will bring me my book from time to time and says "Mum read."
3. Make It A Daily Activity
This one is pretty key. Whether it's the same book being read multiple times a day or a collection of them, make it a point to sit down at least twice a day for reading time. Also, get them involved in the activity. As your child grows, let them pick the book, ask them questions during the story and let them turn the pages. Getting them involved makes it a fun activity for them and allows for some imagination (talk about strengthening that brain). It's spectacular to hear what your kids have to say about the story and hear their perspective.
4. The Voices---Do The Voices!
Seriously, this is the hook! As soon as I started doing voices for each character and some facial expressions, I saw the engagement level go up a notch. You're gonna feel funny and ridiculous, but it actually turns out to be quite lively and enjoyable. Just watch out for those husbands with the iPhones taking Instagram stories (embarrassed much.)
5. Library Visits
A whole space filled with books...doesn't get much easier than that. Our local library has a music class for babies 0-18 months, sadly Q's grown out of this class, but this was one of our favorite activities to do as he was going through the first year of his life. Some music and dancing and then we usually hung around the library after to explore the rows upon rows of books. Most libraries even have a open concept children's area , soft cushions, an area to breastfeed and give snacks, which makes for a convenient space to spend a few hours. With the fall/winter months approaching, the library is a great sanctuary to still get some time out of the house and allow your little one to do some exploring in a place filled with never ending stories.