My little men and I love to read together. We're currently on Harry Potter #4 and daydreaming about a trip to Harry Potter World. It's been a rocky road for my youngest, finding books that interest him but aren't too difficult to understand. I'm always looking for ways to help my four boys become voracious readers (or at least once in a while reach for a book over a device). As those of you who have more than one child know, what worked with one will completely flop with another, so I've tried a lot of different techniques over the past twenty years. Sometimes one of them is effective. Here are a few:
· Read Aloud - Start reading aloud when they're infants and don't quit, unless they’re running away from you with fingers in their ears screaming, "Stop the madness." When they're teenagers and no longer want you reading to them, we've tried reading the same novels and discussing them.
· Make the library and bookstore special treats. My younger boys love to ride bikes to the library, the older boys prefer choosing an ebook to download to their phone. They all know every holiday they’ll receive a book as a present.
· Have books everywhere. The only room in our house that isn't loaded with books is the kitchen and that's only because we try not to ruin our books and because we need to actually talk to our oldest once in a while without his eyes glued to a book.
· Be a good example. My husband isn't a reader, but I remind him often to have the boys see him reading the newspaper or his scriptures or pretending to read one of my books (the romance is a bit hard on the tough guy, but he has started listening to my audiobooks in his truck ;). If your children see you finding joy from reading, they will usually want to explore that themselves.
· Read age-appropriate books. I think this is one of the mistakes I made with my second son when he was young. My oldest and I were having so much fun with chapter books that I would read my second son's books quickly and then settle down to read for hours with my oldest. My second guy would usually stay with us during story time, but I'm not sure he got much out of it. If you can, try to set aside a time to read to each child on their level. It's also okay to read above their level, but plan on explaining words or situations they don't understand. When we read The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas it took us months, but my son still enjoyed it. We also enjoy reading below their level sometimes. Every one of my boys still laughs at Junie B. Jones, even if they won’t admit it.
· Read what they want (most of the time) - I try to let my boys pick out their own books, but I also pick out series I want to read to them. We have to give a new book forty pages. If they hate it, we quit. And sometimes I have to grit my teeth through their books (have you read Captain Underpants?), but that's part of being a mom.
· Keep it fun - I always ask the librarian or bookstore employee for humorous kids' books. We also come back to some of our favorite funny series over and over again. The Fudge Series by Judy Blume and Chickens in the Headlights by Matthew Buckley make us laugh no matter how many times we read them. I would love to hear about your favorite children's series, funny or not.
Here is a list of a few of our favorite children's series. Please share your favorite series in the comments, and any ideas you have to help children love to read. I need all the help I can get ;).
Hugs and thanks,
The Bad Guys by Aaron Blabely
39 Clues by various authors
Knights of Wonderland by Daniel Coleman
Nate the Great by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat
Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown
Beyonders by Brandon Mull
Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan
Serpent Tide by K.L. Fogg
The Frog Princess by E.D. Baker
Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins