Oh my goodness, welcome to the inaugural post on my brand new website. (I’m so nervous. Let’s be friends.)
If you want to follow and make sure you don’t miss any posts, you can subscribe to my blog on Bloglovin’ here. Bloglovin’ is what I use to keep track of all the blogs I follow. It’s super easy and it means all the blogs I read are in one place so I don’t have to click from site to site (all the finger clicking, who has time for that??).
So bear with me, there are still some things to fill in that will come but for now I just need to start writing. I need to get all these inside thoughts on the outside and start afresh with my favorite community.
Ok, we’ve had some amazing changes and transformations in our house so I’m going to talk about that a little today.
Let me preface it by saying that in just a few short months our boys have turned into voracious readers and book-lovers (only our oldest son can actually read read, but I’m talking about a love of books in general). And, as books have an inexplicable way of doing, our entire family atmosphere has transformed, becoming deeper and richer and closer. Let me also say that most of the things we’ve implemented either came from or were inspired by Read-Aloud Revival. I can’t say enough fantastic things about them. And if you want to listen to just one podcast to inspire you to love reading aloud with your family, listen to this one. Ok, onward good friends.
I’ve been a voracious reader nearly my entire life. People ask how I make time to read even now with so many kids and I can only blink-blink at them because how could I not read? It’s inconceivable to me. I read because I love to read, which means it’s not hard for me to make time for it. One of my favorite things is to work fast in the evening and get those last chores done with the thought of a good book awaiting me at the end. Seriously the best.
Because I’m a voracious reader and my life has been shaped by books, I have a natural desire to pass that on to my children. So from the time our oldest has been teeny-tiny I’ve not only read to him but I’ve consistently prayed for them that they would love to read and be passionate readers too. But it wasn’t until this past spring when I came across the Read-Aloud Revival website and their Instagram account that I realized that even though I have a natural affinity for reading, there was a lot more I could be doing and some things I could definitely stop doing to shape our family culture around reading (their tagline).
So I’m going to share what we’ve done in our family these last few months, but feel free to pick and choose or simply go on your merry way. I’m most encouraged when I can read others’ stories of how this looks in real life so maybe this will help a few of you.
10 Tips to Establish a Strong Reading Habit with Little Kids
1. I went cold turkey on all media and screen time. Listen, they fought this hardcore. I admittedly used the iPad way too often as a means to get 30 minutes of quiet or 30 minutes to be productive or just 30 minutes to surf mindlessly online. It was my go-to thing. Hand them the iPad and they do their thing and I do my thing. So when I cut it out cold turkey, there was major pushback. But the thing is, I’m still the parent and I get to make those calls no matter how much they initially fight against it. No means no means no. (Now, we allow a little screen time, but only every few days or week.) But that leads me to number two.
2. I filled the gap with thoughtful, intentional time in good stories and engaging books and explained to them (over and over and over) that reading is better, and that getting lost in imagination and narratives is better. I continually cast a vision for the wonder and magic that stories hold. And it’s caught! They now constantly ask to listen to audio books or to be read to. I’m also now always finding them with a book in their hands. Micah has even started reading aloud to his siblings, which is a HUGE step for him.
3. I read aloud to them with excitement and exuberance. I get into the stories as much as they do (if not more) and I translate that into my tone when I’m reading. Enthusiasm is contagious. I also use audio books in the car and they looove it. (We use Audible and they have a ton of options.)
5. I’m choosy with the books we read. I went through and purged our house of all the fluffy stuff and have started filling it with books that have beautiful language and pictures to feed their imagination and minds. I also heavily rely on others’ trusted booklists, like the RAR one.
6. I make reading the better option (I learned this after listening to one of the RAR’s podcasts.) For example, at certain times of the day I tell them they can have quiet time (no toys) or they can read quietly. 100% of the time they choose to read quietly. We also do this at bedtime. After we’ve done our family bedtime routine, we tell them they can read quietly in bed after we close the door. They take it very seriously because they feel the responsibility of turning their own lamp off (which they love), and it’s created a strong bedtime reading habit.
7. I don’t reward their reading (like 30 minutes of reading for 30 minutes of screen time). I want them to see reading as a reward and pleasure in itself. Not something to rush through to get to something “better”. We do celebrate after each chapter book we finish (ice cream, chocolate, other things that are usually sweet).
8. I only allow books in the car, no toys. This one has really stuck to them and they always have their heads in a book in the car now.
9. I don’t put pressure on myself or them to read aloud for a specific amount of time. If we read aloud for 10 minutes, fantastic. If we read aloud for 30, great. But I’m content with both. Reading is reading is reading. I also don’t want them to come to dread it because I’m a drill sergeant about it. (A side note and something I learned from the RAR podcast: I allow them to color or play quietly with math blocks or legos while I read to them. Studies show that it helps them to not only listen better but increases their willingness to sit for longer periods of time.)
10. And lastly, I make sure I’m reading too and that they know that and see it in action. They’re still going to do what we do, usually before they do what we say.
These are just a few things that have helped us, and hopefully you find some take-aways!
This book is also an invaluable resource for the why behind it all (besides for the love of reading alone):