Dr. Seuss Day was yesterday, but today Reece celebrated at school with a pajama day and books he brought from home to share with friends at school. It was also library day and he was excited to bring home the 6th book in the Magic Tree House series.
Watching Reece learn how to read has been one of the coolest things about parenting so far. Seeing Emme enjoy books and hearing her “read” out loud is pretty fun too.
Reading signifies big kid status. My baby is a big kid now. In kindergarten last year, Reece went from knowing what sound each letter makes, to just beginning to sound out words, to reading all the signs as we drove around town, to really actually reading.
I love to read, so I love that my kids love it too. It’s such a great way to explore the world and learn. Reece’s enthusiasm to pick up another book each time he finishes one make me feel happy inside.
One way we make reading fun: Every year at Christmas, Santa leaves a book on the kids’ beds as their first present. It’s a fun tradition and they love to see what book Santa will bring.
I keep expecting there to be a year when they are too excited to go out to the living room and see the rest of their presents that they won’t pay attention to their books. Fortunately, that hasn’t happened yet.
With Reece reading well enough for chapter books, Santa wasn’t sure which ones he would like best, so he brought him this 5-pack starter series of chapter books–each one is the first book of a popular series. I thought it would be fun to have him read all these first books and then choose which series he wanted to get into from there. He loved them all, but so far it’s been the Magic Treehouse series that he’s continued with.
Since Christmas, Reece’s reading has really taken off. I lost count of how many books he has read since then because he just keeps going. It’s crazy to think that at the beginning of the school year, his brain would hurt after reading a little bit, so we would take turns with longer books. Now there’s almost no stopping him.
In fact, he gets so into some of his books, that he stays up a little too late in bed reading them. He even told me he wakes up in the middle of the night, reads a little bit and goes back to bed! I’m no longer surprised when he tells me he finished a Magic Treehouse book in one night.
As far as bedtime reading for Emme, after I tuck her in, she requests a little pile of books to “read” on her own before she falls asleep. I get so much joy hearing her little voice telling her versions of all the stories.
I know kids pick up reading at a wide range of ages. It clicks for kids at different times even when reading is encouraged at home. A lot of patience, some time and a little encouragement, and reading fluency will come eventually. I know that even with encouragement, you can’t force a love of reading on a kid. They all have different interests, so a love of reading isn’t a given, but here are some of the things we did in our home that seemed to have worked *so far* (you never know what will happen next!).
How We Encourage A Love of Reading in Our Kids
Start Young – Since the kids were teeny babies, we’ve been reading out loud to them. Even if all they wanted to do was play with a book, that was encouraged because books should be fun. At the restless, can’t-sit-still-for-a-second stage, I would just take what I could get and there were no expectations of actually finishing a book. I still read to them whenever possible. Even though he can read now, Reece still enjoys being read to when it comes to picture books.
Let Them See You Read – We get the newspaper delivered to our house, so at minimum our kids see us reading that each day. When Reece started paying attention to sports, I handed him the sports section to look at.
When there are articles in the paper about things that interest them, I read snippets from the story. They also see me reading when I’m really into a book and trying to read bits of it at every chance I can get.
Read at Bedtime – Reading at bedtime is a great way to ensure you get reading time in that day. It also allows for wind down time before bed. It’s something we all look forward to every night.
Read the Book Before Seeing the Movie – This one has been really fun for us and is a great way to get them interested in older movies. We’ve read then watched Pollyanna, A Little Princess, The Secret Garden, The Little Prince, Fantastic Mr. Fox and The BFG. Reece heard about Harry Potter from someone at school, so I told him that he needed to read the book before seeing the movie. Since Harry Potter has some scary and violent themes in it, I told him that he can read it whenever he’s ready to read the whole thing on his own (figuring he might start around 8). Reece being Reece, he decided he’s ready to tackle it now, so he bought the first book with a gift card he had to Barnes and Noble.
Now this is a book that can still make his brain hurt, but he’s made it to chapter 6 so far. He reads a couple pages at a time with me right there to talk about it since some of it is beyond his comprehension level. He’s eager to know everything that happens in this story, so that’s powering him through the long pages and chapters. I love Harry Potter, so I’m really excited that we’re at this stage already!
Read Everywhere – From the farmer’s market to your home, there’s no limits rules or boundaries. At store or school or driving in your car, read where you are.
From shopping carts to car seats, reading is a good way to keep them entertained and quiet for awhile.
Meet Them Where They’re At – When Reece was first reading, once his brain started to hurt, I would take over. Reading should be fun, so I never wanted to push him to make reading a chore. Also, when he was very first learning how to read, the library was a great source for super simple books. Many “level one” books were too complex. Options at the library let him practice certain letter combinations in simple ways that didn’t exhaust him.
Our Family’s Favorite Books
Here are some of our kids favorite books that your family might enjoy too!
The Book With No Pictures (so, NOT a picture book, but so funny)
Andrew Lost (lots of science facts!)
Thomas Edison (I can’t find the exact book that we have, but this one looks good too)
National Geographic Space (This book is fantastic!)
I hope you find some new books to enjoy with your family from this list! There are so many great ones out there–I have a serious weakness for purchasing children’s books. And remember, if you have a little one just learning to read: patience, patience, patience! It helps to sip a glass of wine while they’re sounding out the words. 🙂
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