Cultivating Lifelong Readers
Tips to promote daily reading habits, and work towards becoming a lifelong reader.
For many of us, we fell in love with reading at an early age. Perhaps it happened while gathered around our primary school teachers on the multi-colored mats of our classrooms, or at bedtime as our parents read us to sleep. Regardless, We wanted to live Where the Wild Things Are, to walk into the fantasy land of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: The Chronicles of Narnia, and fall asleep to the sweet melodic tone of Goodnight Moon. The books of our youth were full of tales of adventure, whimsy, and dreams, but as we got older, for many of us, the magic starts to fade. It is important to question why this happens, and how we can fight to keep the magic alive.
The process of cultivating a lifelong reader must start at an early age, and needs to be encouraged outside of the classroom. While eventually we want our readers to be self-motivated to dive into the pages of a book, it might take a little extra work at the beginning to stoke that fire. Below are a few tips to inspire your reader, enjoy!
Set aside a time to read every day. Seems too simple right? Simply getting your reader into a routine will make life so much easier! If they know that at 6 o’clock each night they will have to read, it will cut back some of the resistance and eventually just be part of their daily routine.
Try not to set too lofty of goals. It’s hard not to want to push our readers right into reading an hour every night, but frankly that is not realistic. It is absolutely okay if at first the time set aside for reading is only ten to fifteen minutes, they are still reading! Eventually, the time spent reading can grow, and may not even be something that needs monitored if your reader gets invested in a story.
Model reading behaviors. Another great way to motivate your reader, is to simply join them! The same time set aside for your younger reading counterpart, should be something that you either match, or exceed. By showing personal interest in reading, you are instantly adding value and meaning to the time set aside. Children model the behavior they see taking place around them, so reading yourself (if you don’t already) is a great place to start.
Let them read whatever they want. Okay, this is a big one! The best way to get kids excited about reading, is to allow them autonomy in the process. If your reader chooses Captain Underpants or How to Eat Fried Worms, let them read it! A comic? Absolutely! The point is that they are excited about a piece of literature, and going to look forward to the piece of their day set aside for reading.
Take your books with you. Reading shouldn’t be confined to a chair in your living room, or the last moments of your day before you fall asleep. By simply throwing a book for your reader in your bag, briefcase, car, or whatever you use to carry your things from place-to-place, you open the door for reading to take place anywhere. Reading can now become an escape from traffic, something to do in a waiting room, or just an activity to fill the little mundane moments of the day.
Ask Questions. One of the best things you can for a kid is to simply be excited about the things they are also excited about. By asking about the story they are reading, you are not only showing personal interest, but promoting comprehension and critical thinking. Bonus!
Get excited about going to the library/bookstore. For many kids, their idea of a good time is playing the latest video game, or watching trending YouTube videos. While this is a fine way to spend their time, it shouldn't be the only way they seek entertainment. If we want our readers to be excited about reading, they need to be excited about the place where the process begins. Making going to the library/bookstore an opportunity for quality time with your reader, and an opportunity for their next imaginative adventure will surely be something they look forward to, if you feel the same way.
Create a book club. Whether you and your reader are the only ones, or your reader gets together a group of friends, a book club is an amazing way to encourage critical thinking and discussion-based learning. Through a book club, your reader will be able to hear and analyze other takes on a story, and share their own interpretations. Book clubs also promote collaborative learning, which will further prepare them for the classroom and novel studies.
By using a combination, or all of these tips, your reader is well on their way to not only being a lifelong reader, but a lifelong learner. This will allow them to be more aware of the world and the current events surrounding them, become more socially and emotionally aware, and promote cognitive development. These skills will not only serve them in their early years, but as they progress into secondary school, and beyond.