Even while I was pregnant with my firstborn Micah, my husband Chris had always expressed how much he wanted our kids to love reading. Not only that, his next goal was to make them understand and comprehend what they are reading. He would read a bible story to our boys while I was still pregnant. We admit and regret that we read more to Micah than Titus while he was in the womb. We kinda figured, Titus was “read to” a lot because he hears all the books when we read to Micah. Back then, we would either read a chapter a book that we go through as a couple or just a bible story to Micah right before bed. We wanted to get into the habit of reading to him every night even while he was growing in the womb. After he was born, we would continue to read to him every day. We practically memorized some of the board books because we’ve repeated it so many times! It was an investment worth making!
As Micah grew older, we noticed he was drawn to books more and more. He would choose to have some quiet reading time on his own after naps and before bed. He would look forward to reading time with Daddy after dinner and bible stories were a must before lights out. A few weeks ago, I noticed Micah “reading” to his little brother in the living room while I was making dinner. I heard him repeat the words on the page pretty accurately and I was totally caught off guard! I thought he was reading! But after a few minutes the words would dwindle down to something else. I realized he wasn’t reading the words but due to countless repetition of certain books that he absolutely loves, Micah has now memorized the words on the page. He was reciting the words (in surprisingly the right order) to Titus. As he turned the page, he continued on. He would even recite it with the tone or voice changes his dad would do while reading that certain paragraph. It made me realize how important it was for us to keep this great thing going. I admit, sometimes I am tempted to just say, we can just read tomorrow.
I praise God for my husband’s wisdom and persistence in making sure we were intentional in making reading a priority in our home. More importantly we are delighted to see that he is so enthusiastic about reading God’s Word. He would not go to bed without reading a bible story no matter how sleepy or tired he is. Indeed, he is a great reminder of how we need to improve on our bible reading and the enthusiasm we put into it. If we want our boys to love reading God’s Word, we need to do a better job modeling it to them.
Here are some ways to help encourage a love of reading in your child.
1. Encourage and expand their oral language.
Depending on his or her age or level, your child can read a story, have a story read to him/her or even take turns reading and listening. As you read, ask your child questions about the details you just read. Keep them engaged by having the little ones point out the characters being discussed on the particular page. When you are done, invite them to identify their favorite part is.
2. 1 to 10 and read them again!
The more exposed they are to different kinds of books, the more their love for reading will grow. We have enjoyed several authors whose writing styles are completely different yet each of them bring something great to share. Don’t underestimate your child’s ability to understand the content. If you think some words are too “big” for him, explain it! Check out our list of favorite authors whose books are quickly filling up our shelves.
3. Sing a song and recite a rhyme.
Name that tune to your favorite nursery rhyme! Rhymes and songs are creative ways to encourage memorization, rhyming, and melody. It’s a great way to introduce poetry and other creative writing styles. Sing together on trips, on walks, and even in the shower! Add hand gestures or dance moves or start a rhyming band to enrich the overall experience. My husband loves to make up words to familiar songs and Micah just bursts out laughing!
4. Have a book nook and hang out there!
Micah can hang out here for 30-45 mins after he wakes up and just read all the books on the shelf. He would look at the pictures, make up words or recite the ones he has memorized and time just goes by, while I get my chores done. Make the area inviting and fun for your little reader. A couch or bean bag, a rug and a shelf make a great little space for some quiet reading time. Designating a “quiet reading time” encourages them have a special time with their books. You can do solo silent reading or reading aloud together there, too. Reluctant readers may be encouraged to read more in a fun and unique environment.
5. Be a literacy advocate!
I need to do this more! My dad is an avid reader and so is my brother, but for some reason, I didn’t get that gene. I only read about the things I am interested in. I need to learn to broaden my literacy choices so I can encourage my boys to do the same. If you have an older child, you may want to encourage your child by setting reading goals and when they achieve them, recognize and reward their efforts. Get the other members of your family to read with your kids too!
6. Add creative intonations! Intonation refers to the rising, or falling pitch in a person’s voice as one says words or phrases. Stress the different ways you can read the questions, commands or conversations in the book. Make different sounds or change your voice or accent as you read aloud. We noticed that Micah would copy our intonations when he reads the books to himself or to his brother. Echo reading is a great way to encourage paired reading as well. (Paired reading can mean alternating sentences while you read aloud together.)
7. Make it a habit!
The reading habit is one of the best things we can pass on to our children. In an age where everything is digital and kids can easily get sensory overload from media, books have a way of opening their eyes, increasing their imagination, and making them appreciate some down time in those magical pages amidst this fast-paced world. Read on! AND don’t forget to teach your child about the author and illustrator of the book he is reading too.
Our Top 13 Authors & Their Books
1. Kevin Lewis & Daniel Kirk: My Truck Is Stuck-This is the first book Micah memorized.
2. June Sobel: The Goodnight Train– love the rhyme and sounds in this one
3. Alice Schertle: The Little Blue Truck; The Little Blue Truck Leads the Way- Who doesn’t love Blue? The sounds the characters make just adds to the fun.
4. Drew Daywalt: The Day the Crayons Quit– Brings back great moments with Crayola box! My husband and I were laughing while he was reading it to Micah.
5. Sherry Dusky Rinker: Steam Train, Dream Train; Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site- She does a great job teaching the different kinds of trucks and trains
6. Mo Wilhems: Elephant and Piggie Series: These are just hilarious!!! You will just fall in love with these two!
7. Amy Krouse Rosenthal:Little Pea; Exclamation Mark; Spoon; Chopsticks- Simple concepts, great points, fun & entertaining for the whole family!
8. Chris Van Dusen: Circus Ship; Randy Riley’s Really Big Hit; If I Built a House, If I Built a Car (our first one); Camping Trip with Mr. Magee, Down by the Sea with Mr. Magee, and more- I think we have all his books! We love all of them! Illustrations are great and the rhymes are just incredible! His characters are funny & the conversations are witty.
9. Watty Piper: The Little Engine That Could– A great classic and must have on the shelf!
10. Maurice Sendak: Where the Wild Things Are– Micah just loves this! Let your imagination lead you to the wild things.
11. Eric Carle: We read through a lot of his books for different stages in their lives. The shorter ones like Polar Bear Polar Bear, What do you see?, Head to Toe, etc- we read from 0-12 months. The longer ones like The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Grouchy Ladybug and The Very Busy Spider are great for 18-24 months and up and perfect for lessons & activities.
12. Sandra Boynton: Dinosaur’s Binket is our favorite. We have a lot of her books too! We read her board books when Micah was 0-12 months. He still enjoys them when we read them to Titus. Who wouldn’t fall in love with her adorable illustrations?
13. . Audrey Wood: Silly Sally: He memorized this book and loves reciting it to his little brother. A fun, silly and entertaining book. I first read this with my 3-6 old students in my classroom and they loved it. I knew it was a must-have for my own kids.
What’s in your shelf?