I often get asked: what are your hobbies? As a mom, I don’t love this question. I have four kids ages 3 to 10. My hobbies are making dinner, cleaning up toothpaste smears, and doing laundry.
However, there is one hobby I’ve tightly held on to: reading. Perhaps you read my blog about the magical Book Lover’s Weekend in Bishop Hill. I love to read and it’s desperately important to me that my kids also love reading.
Here are some things I’ve done to help my kids become readers.
Sign them up for a library card as soon as possible.
The Rock Island Library has an early reader card called the “My First Library Card” that doesn’t incur any fines and is for Rock Island locations only. It is connected to my email so I get all the notices and such. My kids have each gotten their own cards as early as age two and they use it to check out books. I bet your library has something similar.
When they turn six they get an official card. This is a big deal in our house.
Of course, as library patrons, we talk about how lucky we are to have access to all the books, movies and puzzles, but mostly I focus on books. We learn how to take care of them and we have a special spot at home for library books so they don’t get mixed in with #allthethings.
Now, Rock Island has a mobile library (a “Bookmobile!!!”) which I’m beyond excited about.
Show them I love reading.
This is especially hard because, frankly, my reading time is often after they are in bed.
I do these things:
- keep a book on my nightstand
- ask for books for Christmas and my birthday
- talk about books with my friends in front of my kids
- check out books from the library (even though sometimes I don’t get them read-even when I renew them).
- tell them when I’m listening to a book with audible
Make full bookshelves a priority.
Each kid’s bedroom has a bookshelf and so does the playroom.
?? Do the books seem to multiply overnight? Yes.
?? Some days, do I think we have WAY TOO MANY? Yes.
?? Could we easily cut back? Yes.
?? Should we? Maybe. I do periodically take some to the free library that’s hosted in conjunction with our church’s food pantry (Feel free to drop any unwanted books at Church of Peace in Rock Island; we will gladly offer them to the food pantry and ESL class patrons).
But here’s why I don’t weed out very many books: I want my kids to know that books are important and I want them to know variety matters. Subtly, we’ve shown that books are as important as toys. Books take pride of place in most of the rooms where we spend the majority of our time.
Read before bed as often as possible.
Personally, I won’t read “look and find” or books that don’t have a story at bedtime. The boys know they have to talk to Dad if that’s their choice for the night. I also won’t read the same one more than two days in a row. Unless it’s Three Ducks Went Wandering. That book is good enough to read every night!
Talk about favorite books.
I talk about them a lot. I show them that I wrote my name in the front of Millions of Cats when I was little where it says “this book belongs to.” As they’ve gotten older I’ve recommended books and, now, (this is THE BEST) I’m reading aloud some of my very favorites (Summer of the Monkeys, I Want to Go Home, Wonder).
Set up a personal librarian interview.
This might be one of my favorite things EVER. I asked an acquaintance (a friend of a friend that I connected with on Facebook and then became friends with) who is a fantastic children’s librarian to meet with our kids individually and then recommend some books.
I’m not sure I can adequately express how magical this was: 1. To have someone else talk books with my kids. 2. To have someone appreciate their particular personalities and then have the knowledge to match books with traits. 3. To have an amazing list of books to get my kids for Christmas and at the library that are just right.
Most of all she listened and provided great tips on how to nurture an even greater love for reading in our boys. So a special shout out to Erin Waldorf-Smith, children’s librarian at Mark Twain Elementary in Bettendorf. Thank you!
Everyone has a different relationship with books. For me, it’s really important to nurture and foster a strong love of reading in our children.