Today I am volunteering at my 8-year-old’s book fair at school. The book fair is held on this week every year to honor Dr. Suess’ birthday. What a gift Dr. Suess was to all of us. He gave us so many wonderful, enjoyable books. He is one of my favorite children’s authors. Last night, my 6-year-old and I cracked up at bedtime taking turns reading Fox in Socks. It was delightful watching him belly-laughing so hard. I am thankful my children have grown into young people who love to read.My 11-year-old was not a kid who loved reading when he was younger. I worked and worried and stressed over his (lack of) reading enjoyment. I tried many things to create that “spark” inside of him. When he was in 3rd grade, we decided to take a family trip to Disney World in the fall of his 4th grade year. So on New Year’s Day of 3rd grade, we offered him the chance to “read” our family to Disney World. We live about 1000 miles from there, so we told him for every hour he spent reading, he would earn 10 miles and if he earned all 1000 miles by October, we would go to Disney World. He loved the idea and came home from school with Book Two of the Harry Potter series (we had read him book one in kindergarten, but stopped thinking it got too scary for his young age back then). From there on, the rest is history. He devoured the remaining six books of Harry Potter, and then went on to read Percy Jackson and the Olympians, and then every other book Rick Riordan has ever written. From February to August of that year, he plowed through 13 books the size of the Harry Potter/Percy Jackson books. To this day, he continues to be a voracious reader. He has found a genre he loves (fantasy) and reading is one of his favorite past times. For that, I am thankful. I know how important reading is to school success and general knowledge in life.
But looking back, I realize with this topic (and with many others) that there was no need for the stress I was feeling. I know now that it was fear-based, which is never helpful. What if he never grew to love reading? What would become of his life? Though the stress then was very real, it is all sort of silly when I think back on it now. My husband and I love reading, and the simple fact that we modeled it was bound to rub off on him one way or another I believe. The one thing that we did do was find a way to encourage his willingness to read. But once he actually tried it, he realized he loved it and the motivation became internalized. Now, the only work we have to do is to get the books at the library when he finishes the one he is currently reading.
What techniques have you tried to instill a love of reading in your children?