March is National Reading Month, a time of year dedicated to celebrating all things reading. Each year, Read Across America Day kicks off the month on March 2 and, together, Read Across America Day and National Reading Month invite students, teachers, parents, and community members to embrace the importance and fun of reading!
There are lots of reasons why many of us are eager for our children to become book lovers who read because they want to, not because they must. We know that children who love to read often score higher on achievement tests, and that reading scores are one of the strongest indicators of school performance. Beyond academics, reading bolsters emotional well-being, it’s more calming than walking or listening to music, and reading for just six minutes has the power to reduce stress.
For Daniel Willingham, author of Raising Kids Who Read, a love of reading is a core component of family life: “for me it’s a family value. It’s something that I love, something I find important. I think I gain experiences I wouldn’t gain any other way by virtue of being a reader. And so naturally I want my children to experience that.”
Whatever your reasons are, we’ve compiled some expert advice, as well as a few ideas that we hope will help you cultivate a love of reading in your children:
1. Reframe your role.
Your job is to help your child begin to fall in love with reading. Book blogger Anne Bogel advises parents to “be partner, not their boss.” There’s immense pressure on parents (and children!) to read early, but that’s something we need to try to let go of. If your child gets frustrated while reading, alternate sentences or pages and supply words when necessary. Create ease when you’re reading together. According to Aha Parenting, “Most children learn to read naturally once they develop the preliminary skills.” (Note: If you’re concerned your child may have learning difficulties or dyslexia, be sure you talk to his/her/their teacher.) In the end, resist the urge to micromanage what your children are reading, and help them find age-appropriate books they love, because one of the most important tips for raising children who love to read is to be sure they have access to books they don’t want to put down!
2. Channel Your Inner Bookworm.
Give your children opportunities to catch you reading, just because you want to. Model reading as a way you enjoy spending time. Our children are so much more observant than we realize, and they will no doubt begin to ask you questions about what you’re reading. They may even grab a book to read beside you! Frame book-centered outings as excursions to anticipate with excitement! Visit the library and your local bookstores together. Teach them how to search for topics they’re interested in, and how to ask the librarian or staff member for help.
3. Create Reading Rituals.
Instill reading as a centerpiece of your family’s life together. This can start from infancy by reading each day before naps and each evening before bedtime. Once your children drop their naps, consider replacing naptime with a quiet reading time. Even school age kids benefit from midday reading and rest time, a routine that works particularly well during school breaks and over the summer. Encourage everyone to share what they’re reading during family meals. Listen to audio books on road trips, or attend author lectures and book signings as a family—and don’t forget to give books as gifts. There are so many ways to rally around reading so that books become a cornerstone of your family culture.