How To Raise a Reader?

If you thought this post was going to answer all your questions about how to get your child (or students) really into reading, well, I’m sorry for the misleading title, but I don’t think I really know the answer. This post is more my wandering thoughts about reading that I pondered today while driving all around this city accomplishing a myriad of tasks.

I’ve been checking the mail every day for a week in anticipation of the arrival of a glorious Amazon box containing my latest read.  Today it arrived and after ripping it open I promptly placed my child in her rocking chair to pose with the latest and greatest.

HNJHey Natalie Jean is a (very popular) blog I’ve been reading daily for over a year now.  Natalie Holbrook is the writer and she tells stories of her every day life, including musings about home decor, fashion, marriage, motherhood…I love her blog.  So, imagine my excitement when she announced last fall that she was writing a book and it would be available in March 2015.  I pre-ordered as fast as I could and sat and waited…waited…waited.  This whole waiting for eight months thing made the arrival of Hey Natalie Jean so much more…special? I don’t know, but in this world of insta-gratification, purchasing with the click of a finger and having the item arrive the next day (for a fee!), I really relished in the wait for this book.

As I was driving around here and there today I got to thinking about reading, and how excited I was to crack the spine of my new book.  I gently reminded myself to read it slowly, to savour every photograph and sentence.  And then I thought, “Why the heck am I so excited to read this book?  Karley – you are jetsetting to Europe next week for goodness sake, and you are more pumped to read a book than to pack your suitcase! What is wrong with you?!”

Wouldn’t it be grande if all parents had a child who loved to read? I think I have the authority to say that all teachers would do backflips to have a classroom full of avid readers.  How did I become such an avid reader? I thought while waiting at a red light.  It comes down to this: I know myself well enough to know what genres I enjoy most.  I have a thing for people and their unique stories (hence my daily blog reading).  I have a thing for Second World War history.  I also have a thing for rustic homemaking and gardening.  I have known these things about myself since I was approximately eight years old; therefore, titles such as Little Women, Little House on the Prairie and Jane Eyre have graced my bookshelves for as long as I can remember.  I think my parents, who aren’t actually super into reading, did a pretty good job of letting me read whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted.  I had access to any books I wanted.  I used to sit in the bath for hours and read.  I used to go to bed early and read.  Now, when there is an extra bit of time in the evening I excitedly tell Joel, “Babe, there is time to read tonight!”  Confession: One of my biggest fears upon Charlee’s birth is that I wouldn’t have time to read anymore.

The arrival of my new book today was such a celebration for me.  I texted the above photo of Charlee and the book to friends and my husband.  I brought the book with me to the chiropractor and actually hoped he was running late today so I could sit in silence and get through a few pages (he was right on time). I started planning this post in my head.  I just think there is something so sacred about books; this is the reason I will never, ever own an eReader or purchase iBooks.

As a teacher I have struggled to help get some of my lackluster readers really into reading.  I’m not quite sure how to navigate that issue yet because I truly think a person needs to know their preferred writing style and their favourite genres pretty well before reading will become their most favourite activity of choice.  And asking a student, “Well, what do you like to read?” does not help the situation because some people really don’t know what they like.  I admit, it is frustrating to open book after book and be let down because the content is not appealing.  I think my husband is the only person I know who will continue to read a book even if he hates it (he complains the whole read, and I tell him to just give it up, yet he persists!) I hope, as a parent, to be able to convey my love of reading to my daughter.  I had a book themed baby shower back in September where we were gifted so many beautiful books for Charlee’s library.  The child is four months old and she already has a decent enough library that I’ve not yet had to reread a story to her.

Teachers and parents, what is your personal experience with reading? How have you managed to convince your students and children that reading is equal parts exciting and fascinating?  Feel welcome to share with us in the comments.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some serious reading to do.


4 thoughts on “How To Raise a Reader?

  1. Great Blog Karley… and what a lucky girl Charlee is…books and Europe – .enjoy
    As a mother, I loved to read to the kids at night, and until Brit was born I tried to read novel, after novel… unlike you – planning was not my greatest skill, once our babies arrived I read more and more non fiction, I tried a novel or two but realized that my addiction off not putting the book down could be dangerous for our child and our marriage….as we grew fast… Three kids in 4 years…my favorite authors were Robert Munsch and Aesop…. I still enjoy books…and have been reading more and more these last couple of years as “empty nest ” hovers over us. As a young parent I was often sad and concerned that my children weren’t as str3ong or passionate about reading.., and lately very grateful as I realize they enjoy reading, with their own choices, for some its scripts and others non fiction, and even some romance… and so very grateful that it there are over 100 books still to be read within the hidden libraries at 273.. Thanks for sharing

  2. I love love love that you are talking about this! I have always loved to read. I have always tried to… dramatize books when I read them for my classes. I request full attention, appreciation for all parts of the physical book, as well as the story. I also love sharing novels with the young ones. I believe that my mom reading to my sisters and I every night (Secret World of Og, Roald Dahl, Lion Witch and Wardrobe, etc), helped me feel loved while I read and helped me love to read. I feel that many kids don’t get that in today’s busy world, so I always allow for some read-aloud time in my classroom… I let them lie down, turn off the lights, and walk around as I read/act out the story for them. I even buy pillows and pass them out to the first kids showing they are ready to listen. I think making it special helps them appreciate reading more 🙂

    • Kasey, it sounds like you truly grew up with an incredible “reading environment”, if you will. Funny you mention the pillows and making a cozy experience of reading. My gymnastics coach used to do the same for us gymnasts on long competition trips, and I did a fun camp-out style read aloud during my final practicum…I should write about that. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences!!

  3. Pingback: Let’s Make Reading Irresistible | Tale of Two Teachers

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