Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Getting Kids to Embrace Reading

I love to read books and my husband likes to read online.

Therefore, we have been very diligent about reading with Sarah wanting to instill this passion with her as well. We started from the very beginning of her life reading often to her.

As a child, I don't remember reading very much. I don't really remember reading much for fun during my teenage years either. It wasn't until an internship during my junior year of college that my passion for reading came about. It was like an epiphany. All the years past when I was in school if I had any free time to read it was supposed to be my assigned reading and text books or studying.

I got hooked on novels that summer and it's been a love fest ever since. I love the feeling of getting completely engrossed in a book that you forget what's going on around you or so wrapped up in characters that you feel you know them or want to be friends with them. You often hear people say that the book was better than the movie. I can say this with great truth. Sometimes I will hold out as long as possible to see a movie I am strongly interested in to read the book first.

I came across a blogging program sponsored by HarperCollins and the "I Can Read!" book series aimed at beginning readers, and had the chance to reflect on my experiences as a reader (more so on what I felt I missed out on as a kid from a reading standpoint) and how much I want to help Sarah experience the appreciation for reading that I now have as an adult and for her to embrace this means of education and entertainment early on in life.

Here are some of my thoughts, tips and experience on how to help motivate children to read.

Start Reading Early to Your Child
Soon after Sarah was born we were fortunate to receive a number of gifts including children's books of all different kinds. Daniel also has some books from his childhood as well that we pulled out of storage. We began reading from the very beginning to Sarah and I encourage you consider doing the same with our little ones. It's never to early to start reading to your child. They very much like the sound of your voice. So, even if they can't read or know what the pictures are or if you are not sure what to say, reading a book is a great way to start.

Read with Kids Daily
We read with Sarah daily at night before her bed time. As she got older we included different types of books to see what interested her most. Small hand-held board books were an excellent starter to introduce reading as fun. Sarah is two and a half and still loves mini board books given to us by a dear friend (Thanks Fiona) and she still loves to thumb through them and tell the story as she sees it with the pictures. Reading daily with children, and with sometimes the same books, children start to develop a comfort with them. Just the other day Sarah woke up in the morning and was reading one of her Thomas the Train books and she seriously was telling the story from the many, many, many times we have read it over and over and over again in her own way. I knew what page she was on just by what she was saying. It was so cute.

Try Different Styles of Reading
Consider the age of your child when choosing styles and titles that will be most appealing to them. In our experience with Sarah board books are best since she's aggressive with the pages and many of them are small in size for her hands to hold and turn pages. Some kids love bigger books or with thinner pages. For us, we considered books with lots of pictures and some words to start so that the books did not seem daunting at first. As she has grown the number of words on a page has increased and she is not overwhelmed when the pages are turned. Sarah even likes Reader's Digest and Prevention magazine for bathroom reading since these magazines are perfect for little hands to turn pages.

Bring Books on the Go
From the very beginning we took books on the go with us everywhere we went. I highly encourage never leaving the house without books for a stroll in the stroller, a drive in the car, a trip to the store, a visit with relatives or friends and especially for times out at a restaurant during meals.

Set Up A Mini Home Library
I was recently fortunate to get my hands on a great small book case perfect for storing books upright and immediately thought that this could be of great use for a mini-library for Sarah. The funny thing is that once I brought this piece of furniture inside I kid you not but Sarah said the word library. The deal was sealed. This bookcase would unequivocally store some of Sarah's many books.

Since Sarah's birth I have had books in many places in our house including another bookcase that stores toys as well. For a while she was going there a lot to sit and read. She also has books in her room in canvas bins, which we read before bedtime and in the morning. This new bookcase lives just outside of Sarah's room and she sees it every single day. She now sits on the floor next to it and reads on her own regularly.

Visit Local Neighborhood Story Time Events
While we have not done this, as Sarah does not sit still for very long, consider your local library for reading days. In fact, a local area Yahoo group I am part of does story time outdoors. Since most of them take place during the work week I have plans to conduct them on the weekend in the coming weeks not only for great reading, but for good opportunity to mingle and make new friends in the neighborhood.

Order Children's Magazine Subscriptions
Additionally, Sarah's Grammie and Papa have subscribed to a few children's magazines (e.g., Highlights) that come to our home in Sarah's name. She loves when new books arrive because it's like getting a new treat.

To learn more about HarperCollins Children’s Books check out more at the following link. They have published a number quality kids books including the classic Goodnight Moon (one of Sarah's favorites), Where the Wild Things Are, The Giving Tree and Charlotte's Web.

Having a number of books in Sarah's library I have to say that I was not familiar with I Can Read! It's a series of books for even the youngest readers that has been around well over fifty years ago including 200 titles such as Little Bear, A Pet for Me and Amelia Bedelia Collection, just to name a few. What I liked most about the I Can Read! website is that they help parents learn about what types of books are good for kids based on age, level of interest, etc. Check out more below.

I Can Read! Books

Become an I Can Read! Member

Please know that I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms blogging program to be eligible to get an "I Can Read!" book. For more information on how you can participate, click here.


  1. I wrote a book that is also accompanied by a CD (or .mp3 files) and kids love to read it, especially when they listen to the Spanish or Italian and feel proud that they understand the words in another language.
    The Monster on Top of the Bed
    Alan Jordan

  2. Hi Caren,

    Just read your blog and the tips are awesome!!.
    My daughter who is almost four has started reading few beginner books and i have been doing almost everything you wrote in your blog.

    One thing which i found very helpful in Anisha's case to get her to start reading was Dr Suess books. Their limited vocabulary and repetition makes kid recongnise the words easily. Books like HOP ON POP , Go Dog Go and Green eggs and Ham.

    Thought of sharing this with you. I am also part of Newport Mommy group and you can email me at indupandey@gmail.com

  3. Hi Caren,

    I just read your blog and the tips are awesome!!.I had been exactly doing the same with my almost 4 yrs old daughter. She has just started reading few beginner books.

    In Anisha's case to get her started reading i found Dr Suess books very useful. Their limited vocabulary and repition makes kids recognise words easily. Books like "Hop On Pop","Go Dog Go","Green Eggs and Ham". I thought of sharing this.

    I am also part of newport mommy group and you can reach me at indupandey@gmail.com.


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