How to Model a Love of Reading

Take a look inside your personal memory bank for a minute, and find those memories of learning to read, being read to, and other literacy-related memories. Can you recall fond memories of learning to read by your parents reading consistently to you (or are you lacking that memory and longing for it)? Do you have memories of seeing your family members read to themselves? Did your dad read the daily paper? Did your mom take time to read books? Did your grandparents read for pleasure? Intentional or not, this act of modeling an appreciation for and love of reading goes a long way in creating a literacy rich environment for your children!
We know that our children look to us to model aspects of life such as social interactions, cognitive skills, gross motor activities, and so much more. This is why we celebrate and focus on play-based learning for our children- so they have the opportunity to put these actions and emotions they’ve witnessed into a way that makes sense to them. (Example: one of the previous times I’ve taught this program, someone mentioned that their daughter keeps a scribbly notebook in her pretend kitchen that she calls her “paperwork.” This mimicking of adult behavior is exactly what I’m talking about!) Other skills we model are things like anger management, problem solving, cutting, drawing, writing, sports play… the list goes on and on. And yet, we still tend to view reading as a separate entity – something that is only “taught” – when in fact, modeling from adults is one of the most important factors in developing early reading skills!

Unfortunately, either because of the increase in technological advances or a continued hurrying of our society, we are spending less and less of our daily time reading. In fact, the National Endowment for the Arts released a report in 2007 showing that in the US, there are more literate people who don’t read than there are people who are illiterate. That’s pretty depressing, right?! What a skill and a joy to be missing out on. And what is our collective excuse? Generally- “I’m too busy.” or “I just don’t have the time.” Well, for the sake of our children and the benefits it poses for them (not to mention the incredible benefits we will see for ourselves), we are going to make the time!


Of course it is important to read to your children; and I absolutely want you to continue to do that daily. But I’m going to challenge you to look at how you model a PERSONAL love of reading for your children. Do your children have a chance to see you reading every day? If they do, excellent- maybe try inviting them to join you by sitting together on a blanket outside, each enjoying your own books or magazines! If you think this is an area where you can improve (I will fully admit- I struggle with making the time for this as well!), then let’s set a goal to spend at least 10-15 minutes a day modeling reading to our children.

Now, if this is something that is going to be completely new to your routine, you may need to introduce it to your children, as you would with any other new thing. You may even find that your children fight for your attention during this time, as they try to make sense of the change. Helping your children understand that reading is so much fun and you want to read for pleasure too will make a huge difference in how they accept it.
Some ways to help both of you incorporate this new daily reading time effectively:
* Go to the library or bookstore together and each of you choose something new to read. Model how you choose a book and talk about your excitement! Talk out loud about what you see on a cover or inside that attracts you to the book.
* Set a daily “family/class reading time” where everyone spends time reading their own materials. Afterwards, share together what you read and learned. Note: if you have reluctant older siblings at home, encourage them by letting them know that they are helping to model a love of reading for their younger sibling. This gives them a purpose and also (sneakily) gives them daily reading time as well! Double win! 🙂

* In addition to daily reading for pleasure, begin to actively model where you read in your every day life. Show your children when you’re reading a recipe and invite them to help you cook. Model reading labels in the grocery store (an excellent way to model healthy eating habits as well). Where else do you read every day without even thinking about it that you could demonstrate to your children? Road signs, maps, news headlines, menus, letters, emails, newspapers, magazines, emails, instructions, etc.

How will you model a passion for reading for your children? Can you incorporate the entire family/school or have it be a special time with just you and your child? Or is it easier for you to have your personal reading time be during one of your children’s other activities? (Note: your child doesn’t have to be reading when you are to benefit from modeling. They just need to witness it!) How can you form a new habit of modeling a love of reading?
Want to learn more about how to create a literacy rich learning environment for your child? Join me Saturday, February 11th at 2pm PST/5pm EST for a FREE Webinar, where I’ll teach you tons of tips and tricks for teaching your child to learn to LOVE reading in a meaningful, natural way! SIGN UP HERE.