SummaryGina Berrios shares 6 – no, make that 7 – ideas that she has successfully used over the years to develop a reading habit for her children and you can too!
You might be a homeschooler if…
…you are on a first name basis with your librarian.
When we first started homeschooling, frequent trips to the library was something I built into our routine. Sometimes we would load up our school books and do school at the library just for a change of scenery.
Other times we would go and I would let the kids gather a stack of books and browse through them. We would spend a couple hours reading at the library. Other times we would thumb through magazines and pick out a few movies.
It was important to me that my kids valued reading, and I figured being a regular patron at the library was a natural first step.
Here are some other ideas we have used over the years to develop a habit (and hopefully a love) of reading.
1. Make reading part of every day
Part of my kids’ school day is that they have to read 30 minutes every day.
This is reading beyond their normal school work. They know their school day is not done until they have completed this free reading time. They can complete their 30 minutes at any point during the day.
One of my kids likes to read his book first thing in the morning. Another child likes to keep it for the final subject of the day. Another child always has her nose in a book and reads all day long.
I let the kids pick what they read during this free reading time, whether it is a book report book or a novel from the library, as long as it is for at least 30 minutes.
They even have to read 30 minutes on the weekend. In fact, no electronic devices can be turned on during the weekend until they have read their 30 minutes.
I bought my kids bookmarks with a timer on the top. This has been a great way for them to keep track of their reading time and encourages independence!
2. Vary what they read
I like for the kids to get a jump start on their book report books by reading at least two of them during the summer.
This allows some flexibility with their choice of books during the school year. If two of the required four books are read during the summer, then they can choose different books to mix in during the school year and the pressure is off for finishing the required reading.
We go to the library on a regular basis. I encourage the kids to find a series they enjoy and to check them out. I do not mind if it is below reading level, if they are enjoying it and reading it. I love it when their 30 minutes of reading is up and they are still reading because they are engrossed in the book!
We have a few magazine subscriptions too. This is a great way to vary what the kids read, and is a great opportunity to talk about what they are reading. The kids read from nature magazines, sports magazines and cooking magazines.
I think that reading from a variety of sources helps them with their writing too. They get exposed to many different styles of writing, and we use that as a reference for creative writing.
3. Create a book nook
Sometimes reading is more fun in a comfy spot. My kids see it as a special treat to get to read a book in the sitting area in my bedroom. It is also fun to curl up on the couch with lots of pillows and blankets. Of course, being surrounded by stuffed animals on the bed is fun too.
And I don’t think there is anything better than swinging on the deck swing while reading a good book on a nice spring day! As long as they have good lighting to read by, I encourage my kids to mix things up and read in a fun place!
4. Have a lot of reading material available
We have bookshelves full of books. It can be a bit overwhelming sometimes for the kids to decide what to read. At the start of each school year, I will pull a stack of books for each child and encourage them to read through those books. This way I know some of the books are at or above their reading level. I will also choose some books relevant to what we are studying in history or science.
For my toddler, I keep a basket of books for him in his room. He has a few that are regulars and he has memorized. I will add to and take away books throughout the year.
The basket of books is a great way to encourage him to “play” with books and not just toys. Each of my kids has had their favorite book as a toddler that got read over and over and over. I love that.
It is such a great way to encourage a reading habit, but also to set the stage for literary skills. I would oftentimes find this favorite book nestled under a stuffed animal and a sleeping toddler in bed at night.
5. Take books on the road
If we are out at a doctor’s appointment, or somewhere that requires waiting, we take books, not electronic devices. It is a great way to get the 30 minutes of daily reading completed. This is also a great time for me to have a discussion with the kids about what they are reading.
I enjoy driving in the car with one of the kids and having him tell me about the chapter he just read. I do not get these kinds of conversations about video games!
6. Read out loud with your kids
It is a natural thing to read to kids when they are little. They crave that time snuggled on your lap reading!
As they get stronger in their reading ability, obviously they are encouraged to read on their own. However, I still have my kids read out loud to me on a consistent basis. Life is busy and homeschooling makes for full days, but I try to listen to each child read at least once a week, more if possible.
It usually is the selection from their reader, something that takes a few minutes (I do not sit down for 30 minutes with each child). I think it is important to hear how they read. With young readers, we mix it up where sometimes I read, sometimes they read.
I try to animate my reading to them so that they can hear the punctuation and tone of the story. I like to hear my kids read to make sure they are getting pronunciations correct. For my older kids, it is usually poetry or a selection from the reading comprehension workbook that I have them read out loud.
I think for reading comprehension especially, some things need to be read more than once. An easy way to accomplish this is to read it out loud with the child and then have him read it again silently.
I think it is essential to my kids’ education that they develop a reading habit. Some of my kids enjoy reading and do not hesitate to pick up a book. Others have to be coaxed along, because left to their own devices they may not ever pick up a book!
Having a required reading time helps to form the habit, because they all know that everyone has to read every day. Given enough time, reading does become a habit!
That child that was not so inclined to read finds that reading is something that is not so bad after all!
Header photo CC: Adobe Stock: WavebreakMediaMicro