In 1992, when our daughter, Rachel, was 3 days old, I brought her to the public library to get her first library card. Rachel is now in her senior year of college and still has that same card today, which is well worn. When I look through old pictures of her childhood, there are countless shots of her reading a book or sitting on a relative’s lap, totally engrossed in the subject. She loved books from an early age, because her dad and I do too. We never forced reading on her, rather it was a natural process. And through her love of books, she developed a strong foundation to excel in academics.
Children see what you do more than they listen to what you say, and they really want to be just like you. The library for us is a special adventure; every time Rachel comes home from college, we head to our local branch and just browse the shelves. It’s a wonderland of not only books, but sheet music, movies, CDs, programs and art exhibits. And it’s all free! You can even read to a dog at our library!
As a visiting author I have been to many schools and camps where 70% of the children are below normal reading levels for their age. These are the children who often come from low income homes, where their parents may not be able to provide them with the reading tools they need at an early age. Fortunately there are many programs out there to help them advance their skills. Yet without the encouragement of their parents, it can be difficult for them to keep up with other students their age. Did you know that a person’s reading level is the single most important factor in determining his or her financial success in life?
You as a parent or teacher can make a huge difference in a child’s life by encouraging them to love reading in positive ways. Here are some tips about how to make your home ideal for young readers and other tips about encouraging reluctant readers. Be patient. Don’t push your child to read at an early age; let it come naturally. Don’t compare your child to others at school. If you pressure your children, bribe them or make the activity of reading stressful in any way, reading will become a burden rather than a pleasure. Even if your child has a learning disability, he or she can learn to love books. The most important thing you can do is to make reading fun, and I can tell you firsthand that reading a high quality children’s book is one of the most entertaining things you can do together as parent and child.