the village - Raising a reader

Helping to raise parents with our own blend of parenting stories, advice and cool finds.
The village: helping raise parents with our own blend of parenting stories, advice, hacks and cool finds

LEARN

Raising a reader

by Claudia Marxen

A couple of years ago an article came out about literacy being linked to the amount of books you had in your house growing up1, and friends started sending me the link. It seems everyone knows my daughter is growing up in a small sea of books. I’m not sure if raising a reader was in the forefront of our minds when our daughter was born, but certainly over the years we’d hoped that she would learn to love books. We’ve done some things right because we managed to end up with an almost-9-year old who loves reading.

At the start

You may tire of a book, but the baby in your arms will not. The closeness of you, the sound of your voice and the pretty pictures are something your little one will be happy to experience again and again. We never saw books as a bedtime thing. They were a morning thing, a between naps thing, a let’s take a break thing. Any opportunity for some quiet time is a good time for you to try a new story or revisit a favourite.

A place with a name

When she was small, my daughter would crawl into her dad’s lap and they would read a book. He came to call it the book nook. Eventually she’d grab books herself and crawl into the book nook and it was quite clear she thought it ought to be story time. Giving it a name can make it stand out as something special for everybody. When we share books together now I can still get a smile out of her, and a cuddle, when I implore her to get into the book nook– now, usually, the crook of my arm.

“Treasures can be found online, at used bookstores and bazaars, and be sure to put the word out with friends and family that you’re hoping to grow your library and are happy to accept donations of pre-loved books.”

All of the senses

There are a million books that can be downloaded in a flash onto your phone or tablet and they contain every ounce of the story you’ll find in the paper versions. However, the tactile pleasure, the sensory experience, the immersion and lack of distraction and the foreverness of a printed book are without compare. If your child is small you’ll soon discover how magnetically drawn kids are to screens. Anything you can do to shimmy their interests elsewhere is huge.

An Image

Books, glorious books

We really discovered our local library when we signed up for storytime for 2-4 year olds. It was a small class that took place once a week and involved a few short books interspersed with some songs and clapping and stomping. We did several rounds of classes and besides enjoying them, they also brought us to the library on a regular basis. We were there a minimum of once a week and would inevitably leave with a stack of books. We got to know the wonderful staff, came to befriend the animators, and fell in love with countless books and their characters. Your library may hold untold resources. Most of these activities are free and help bring a community of parents closer together. Of course, times are weird at the moment. Hopefully soon we’ll be living a new normal where activities like these are reinstated.

Books, glorious books

Libraries are great but having books at home, at the ready, is a special delight. If the expense of books makes that a challenge, don’t despair. Treasures can be found online, at used bookstores and bazaars, and be sure to put the word out with friends and family that you’re hoping to grow your library and are happy to accept donations of pre-loved books.

It took almost 9 years but my daughter’s room now features a bookcase that's bursting with them. It holds books she loved years ago, stories she’s into now, and a few unread ones yet to be discovered. It’s amazing to see her pore through the shelves and disappear into a different world.

I’d rather be reading

By finding great books that reflect their interests and sharing them with your children, you’re showing what a great book can be. By reading for enjoyment yourself, you’re showing the value in reading. When your kids see you enjoying a book (instead of spending time on a screen) you’re setting an example. And when they hear you say how much you’re enjoying it, it resonates.

However, a parent’s influence only goes so far, so it’s helpful to get some outside reinforcements. When she was 5, our daughter had a t-shirt that said “I’d rather be reading” and it prompted many compliments and conversations about books with both strangers and friends. It made her plucky about her love of reading and also made that world a little bigger. Had she only ever seen her mother and father value books, she might think differently about them today. Your local library is a great place to start cultivating these exterior influencing moments. And those moments can be sparked with book bags, pins, t-shirts and other visual cues that communicate that there’s a little reader afoot.

Raising a reader might not sound effortless, but it’s nothing more than small accumulated moments spent together with books. And these are the sort of small moments that make life sweet– quiet times spent together, sharing something special. Moments to be treasured. Soon enough your kids will be introducing you to new authors and books they’ve discovered on their own. Until then, there are untold adventures to discover and a few tears you’re sure to shed at the beauty of it all– in your book nook.

1. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/oct/10/growing-up-in-a-house-full-of-books-is-major-boost-to-literacy-and-numeracy-study-finds

LEARN

Raising a reader

by Claudia Marxen

A couple of years ago an article came out about literacy being linked to the amount of books you had in your house growing up1, and friends started sending me the link. It seems everyone knows my daughter is growing up in a small sea of books. I’m not sure if raising a reader was in the forefront of our minds when our daughter was born, but certainly over the years we’d hoped that she would learn to love books. It seems we’ve done some things right because we managed to end up with an almost-9-year old who loves reading.

At the start

You may tire of a book, but the baby in your arms will not. The closeness of you, the sound of your voice and the pretty pictures are something your little one will be happy to experience again and again. We never saw books as a bedtime thing. They were a morning thing, a between naps thing, a let’s take a break thing. Any opportunity for some quiet time is a good time for you to try a new story or revisit a favourite.

A place with a name

When she was small, my daughter would crawl into her dad’s lap and they would read a book. He came to call it the book nook. Eventually she’d grab books herself and crawl into the book nook and it was quite clear she thought it ought to be story time. Giving it a name can make it stand out as something special for everybody. When we share books together now I can still get a smile out of her, and a cuddle, when I implore her to get into the book nook– now, usually, the crook of my arm.

“Treasures can be found online, at used bookstores and bazaars, and be sure to put the word out with friends and family that you’re hoping to grow your library and are happy to accept donations of pre-loved books.”

All of the senses

There are a million books that can be downloaded in a flash onto your phone or tablet and they contain every ounce of the story you’ll find in the paper versions. However, the tactile pleasure, the sensory experience, the immersion and lack of distraction and the foreverness of a printed book are without compare. If your child is small you’ll soon discover how magnetically drawn kids are to screens. Anything you can do to shimmy their interests elsewhere is huge.


Books, glorious books

We really discovered our local library when we signed up for storytime for 2-4 year olds. It was a small class that took place once a week and involved a few short books interspersed with some songs and clapping and stomping. We did several rounds of classes and besides enjoying them, they also brought us to the library on a regular basis. We were there a minimum of once a week and would inevitably leave with a stack of books. We got to know the wonderful staff, came to befriend the animators, and fell in love with countless books and their characters. Your library may hold untold resources. Most of these activities are free and help bring a community of parents closer together. Of course, times are weird at the moment. Hopefully soon we’ll be living a new normal where activities like these are reinstated.

Libraries are great but having books at home, at the ready, is a special delight. If the expense of books makes that a challenge, don’t despair. Treasures can be found online, at used bookstores and bazaars, and be sure to put the word out with friends and family that you’re hoping to grow your library and are happy to accept donations of pre-loved books.

It took almost 9 years but my daughter’s room now features a bookcase that's bursting with them. It holds books she loved years ago, stories she’s into now, and a few unread ones yet to be discovered. It’s amazing to see her pore through the shelves and disappear into a different world.

Books, glorious books

I’d rather be reading

By finding great books that reflect their interests and sharing them with your children, you’re showing what a great book can be. By reading for enjoyment yourself, you’re showing the value in reading. When your kids see you enjoying a book (instead of spending time on a screen) you’re setting an example. And when they hear you say how much you’re enjoying it, it resonates.

However, a parent’s influence only goes so far, so it’s helpful to get some outside reinforcements. When she was 5, our daughter had a t-shirt that said “I’d rather be reading” and it prompted many compliments and conversations about books with both strangers and friends. It made her plucky about her love of reading and also made that world a little bigger. Had she only ever seen her mother and father value books, she might think differently about them today. Your local library is a great place to start cultivating these exterior influencing moments. And those moments can be sparked with book bags, pins, t-shirts and other visual cues that communicate that there’s a little reader afoot.

Raising a reader might not sound effortless, but it’s nothing more than small accumulated moments spent together with books. And these are the sort of small moments that make life sweet– quiet times spent together, sharing something special. Moments to be treasured. Soon enough your kids will be introducing you to new authors and books they’ve discovered on their own. Until then, there are untold adventures to discover and a few tears you’re sure to shed at the beauty of it all– in your book nook.

1. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/oct/10/growing-up-in-a-house-full-of-books-is-major-boost-to-literacy-and-numeracy-study-finds

— You may also like —

Top of Page