Maya Angelou said, “Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.”
I think I did a total of four different high school book reports on the same book that I had only half read once. The wonder of reading was something I discovered in college, turning up hidden gems on black and white pages. I fell into the imaginations of Tolkien, Crichton, C.S. Lewis, and more. I became a rabbit in Watership Down and a moon man in The Martian. Reading became for me an escape, a comfort, a sage, a nurturer of new thought and imagination. I fell in love with the wonder of words.
I hope to cultivate the same thrill for literature in my son. It would be awesome if we could share many conversations over our favorite books throughout the years. In the meantime, reading to him is key. Not just for their development either. Any activity that pulls a man out of himself, and places him into an others-focused situation is good for his mental health. Here are three practical ways to go about instilling a love for reading in your kids so they can wonder in the wonder of words sooner rather than later:
1. Read good books.
Just like anything, there are high quality books for kids and kind of dumb ones. Be selective and strategic in the books you read to your kid. A key to discerning what is good is easy: buy children’s books that are appealing to you. Not only will your kids share your enjoyment of such books but, as good books often do, they will build a bridge between you and your child. Look for books that you can be excited about so that kids can learn that reading can be something to look forward to. I’ve been surprised at the quality of some children’s books.
2. Read everyday.
Creating a habit out of reading is not a bad thing. Studies often show that time spent reading to your kids has great benefits for them later on in their lives, and routine is a healthy alternative to bedtime on the fly. Books teach, challenge, encourage, and develop. They can learn life-skills like responsibility, powering through tough times, and habit-building through the simple act of being read to consistently. They won’t just learn to read, they’ll learn life.
3. Engage/Have a conversation.
Good books are bridges, and we all know this world needs more bridges. In the same way that books written for adults are meant to engage and challenge communities to converse around important topics, children’s books should do the same. Teach your kid that reading is more than words on a page, it is about engaging the world around them, and seeking to grow through the page. Ask your child questions, make funny noises and voices, get them excited to read by connecting with them.
I’m an infant parent as much as my son is an infant. These are strategies that I hope to utilize in the raising of my children, not ones I have learned through parenting experience. But I know my journey of becoming a reader and I want my son to maintain healthy habits, appreciate creativity and fresh thought, and engage the world around him. I hope my son can learn from me to read through the page instead of just reading it. I want him to wonder in the wonder of words.
PS. Dr. Seuss is always a great place to start. A.A. Milne’s original Winnie The Pooh books are also fantastic.
PPS. Read some simplistic wisdom of children’s authors here.
Have a favorite? Tweet me @DaddingDepressd or comment below!