It’s November and at BOOK IT! we are celebrating National Young Readers Week (NYRW) with our school partners. Co-founded by Pizza Hut and the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress in 1989, this annual event is held during the second week of November to raise awareness around the importance of reading. There have been some truly epic celebrations in schools across the country and our Principal Challenge often has school leaders and local dignitaries reading on the roof of the school! It’s impressive to see educators do whatever it takes to get kids excited about books and reading.

A model reader picture
One of my core beliefs is that for every child there is a book that will appeal to them - find the right book, and you will spark the love of reading in the child. But how, you ask, do I find that book? It all begins with you. You are a role model for children, both your own and, if you are a teacher, your students, every day. These children are looking to you to determine what is important in their lives, and if you read every day, they will know that it is important. Reading is a priority for me and I carve out time for reading multiple times a day. When they were younger, I suspect my kids were somewhat jealous when I was reading, as that took my attention away from them. I couldn’t feel guilty about that, because reading is IMPORTANT to me, and eventually they began sitting with me, and even before they could actually read, they would emulate me by holding (and sometimes chewing on) books.

As we read together every night before bed, my kids grew into a more active role, choosing their favorite picture books and demanding we read them over and over and over again. This meant we needed to have books available to read. Books are an amazing gift. When my friends have baby showers, at least one of their gifts from me is a book. For your home library you can find books at discounted prices on Amazon or at garage sales, and don’t forget your neighborhood independent book store. Ask your friends with older children if they are willing to part with their age appropriate books, or just borrow books from friends. Trying new types of books is one way to engage a reluctant reader, so keep interspersing new titles in with the tried and true favorites.
For the greatest variety, don’t forget your public library, which has tens of thousands of book that you can borrow, for FREE. While you are there, attend the library’s story time programs, which are not only fun, but will also show your children that reading is something to be shared and enjoyed with others. Libraries are also great if you are not a big reader yourself, as your children will see the librarians modeling reading behavior. Teachers and school library media specialists also have a huge impact on how our children view reading, so if you are concerned that your child is not embracing reading, ask for their assistance in choosing books your child will love. And check your area for Little Free Libraries, which embrace the philosophy of “Take a Book, Leave a Book” and are often right in your neighborhood.

Kid reading in a bridge
You may be tempted to give children books that you loved as a child, or that you have heard are “classics”. There are so many great books currently being written that directly speak to the experiences and interests of today’s children, that I encourage you to consult the best sellers list for something new. But the best place to start when choosing a book for a child, is with the child. Ask them what they like to do, or what they are interested in. Consider allowing your child to read twenty minutes a day from the book of their choice. Carve out time before bed to read together for as long as your child is interested in doing so. Reading together does not have to stop when children enter school, it is a wonderful bonding experience that shows your child that reading is important and that sharing time with them is an important priority as well.
So what if your child is excited about reading, but only if it is graphic novels or manga online? Or if they won’t read “real” books, only e-books, magazines, or they like to listen to audiobooks? That’s wonderful! These are all legitimate genres and forms of reading. Kids often become obsessed with certain topics; it could be motorcycles, American Girl dolls, Lego, soccer, Pokemon, the latest movie star, whatever their interest, there are books and magazines that they can read about that topic. Don’t worry that this isn’t fine literature, as they will get plenty of that in school, but allow them to explore, through words and pictures, their interests so they come to associate reading with the things they love, and in turn reading will become a thing they love, and they will read their hearts out! Coming next month, recommendations for keeping your children busy with reading related activities during the long winter break.
beth's signature