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Raising a Reader

If you haven’t already guessed, I love books. I mean, I did open a bookstore. ;) As far back as I can remember, books have been a big part of my life. Memories of snuggling on my mother’s bed, me on one side, my brother on the other, fill my head with my mother’s voice reading 1001 Arabian Nights, or Little House on the Prairie, or my favorite The Secret Garden. I’m pretty sure I can recall the layout of every school library as they were some of my favorite places. So it is no wonder I want to share these experiences with not only my own children but others as well.

I started reading to my kids before they were born. I read everything from picture books to adult fiction so that they could associate my voice with reading. To my great displeasure, while my kids don’t hate reading, their enthusiasm never seems to match my memories of reading and books as a kid. At times I wonder if I have failed them somehow. 

I’ve now had enough conversations with other parents to know I’m not alone. In fact, there are several books dedicated to helping parents raise children who love reading. Most recently, Pamela Paul and Maria Russo, editors of the New York Times Book Review, published How to Raise a Reader. Divided into four sections, from baby through teen, and each illustrated by a different artist, this book offers something useful on every page, whether it’s how to develop rituals around reading or build a family library, or ways to engage a reluctant reader. This book reminds us that raising a reader doesn’t happen all at once. Becoming a lifelong reader happens step by step, book by book, and we as parents continue to be vital to the process even when it looks like our kids are ignoring us and our fantastic suggestions. 

My oldest child brings his school-issued laptop home every day. Each night I find him sitting in the living room with his laptop. More often than not, one peak shows the library app up and him reading. Most nights, whether reading an ebook or a printed one, he will tell me, “Just let me finish this,” when I ask him to head to bed. I’m slowly learning that my own memories should never overshadow my children’s reading experience. I’m raising readers, even if they look different than me. 

Cheers! - Kristin 📘