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How to spark the reading bug?

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
I'm the only real "reader" in my house. DH doesn't read much at all except a few items online and of course our DC (6, 4, and 1) aren't reading on their own yet. I don't manage to read everyday to them; when we do it is very sporatic because maybe the baby is being difficult, maybe nobody wants to listen to my reading choice, or they (the 6 and 4 yo) can't agree on a selection. (Isn't there a pulling-your-hair-out smily to put here??)

Sometimes the kids come to me and ask to have a book read to them and sometimes I make the initiative and offer to read something to them which more often than not is declined. I read other's post about how reading is such a commonplace thing in their homes and how they do family read-alouds which a)makes me wish my kiddos were more geared for that and b)makes me ask are the books selected random choices someone in the family chooses or do you use selections from booklists (ie Sonlight, Charlotte Mason, etc.)?

I think I feel that their exposue to reading isn't what I'd like it to be but I feel I'm working with a difficult crowd. I tried reading time at the library a couple of years ago and ds6 didn't like it at all. I think dd4 would get into it now but for the shear social aspect (someone's reading? really?? hmm, didn't notice )
post #2 of 20
My kids are similar in ages. We usually read a lot at bedtime, and DS falls asleep first, and then it is DD's choice what to read, but other than that it is hard to find reading time that everyone is happy about it. We have many of the same issues.

What has been working great for us is to go to the library with a nice play area. DD2 settles down with some toys, and DD1 and DS bring me books from the shelves, and I read them to them. The novelty of the play area makes them less cranky when it is not their choice being read. DS would wonder around. DD will bring more books. Then DS gets interested in reading again. And the piles of colourful books look enticing. We mostly read picture books at the library, and longer books at home. My kids really love this experience!
post #3 of 20
I think it's important to build reading aloud into your routine. My kids are younger, but I've been doing basically the same thing since DD was about two and it's the routine my parents had so I don't see why it would change.

I read a chapter from a chapter book every evening after dinner. That is always my choice. The kids can play quietly or color: whatever they want, but no noise. And no, it doesn't usually work that well at these ages! But the routine is more important to me than anything else. When my kids start fighting too much, I stop reading. Then upstairs to bath and bed, and I read DS a short board book in his crib (he tends not to last terribly long before he realizes that I'm putting him to bed) and DD a picture book of her choice in bed.

Throughout the day I'll read to either of them if they bring me a picture book (and I'm not busy, obviously). DD wants nothing else than for me to read to her, and DS is only starting to want me to read to him. He has some hearing problems that are hopefully getting corrected this week, so I hope he grows more interested in listening to the words instead of just looking at the pictures. I had to stop reading to DD at naptime because the amount of time it took to read a book kind of rested her so she didn't sleep. That was part of our routine until she was about 2.5, though.

I really recommend the Read-Aloud Handbook. It's a really great book.
post #4 of 20
I'm having trouble posting replies so I'll break up my response into small chunks.

DS1 who is 6 now has always loved being read to (I accidentally started reading him chapter books at age 2, but that's a long story for another post perhaps), but ds2 who will be 4 in October was a really hard sell until this past year. I think it took the repeated, unfaltering routine of exposure during storytime at night with ds1, as well as the "right" books, to get him hooked. In ds2's case that was initially books featuring favourite cartoon characters like Dora, the Backyardigans, etc. However he now likes a much wider selection of books.
post #5 of 20
In my experience, reading aloud, consistently, is the easiest way to "spark the reading bug."
post #6 of 20
We go to the library every week and also have an extensive home library. at the public library I let them bring home anything they want and will read them ANYTHING they ask for, including selections I may find questionable or personally uninteresting.

The only lists I use are from the library reading program ds1 (and starting this year, ds2), are enrolled in. I'm in Ontario so it's called the Forest of Reading Program and they are at the Blue Spruce Level.
They read all 10 selections on the list and in April they get to vote on their favourite one at a party held in the library. The Ontario-wide winner is presented with an award; ds1 loves the competitive nature of the program.
post #7 of 20
I also have an extensive on-going list of both picture and chapter books from a couple of hs forums, and seek them out at the library occasionally.

I can understand the frustration of wanting to read to them and foster a love of reading in them when you're not getting the response you hoped for. I also get how difficult it must be with the dynamics of your family. Having a 1 yr old in the mix would certainly make it different! Is there any chance you coudl squeeze in at least one book of each child's choice at bedtime, even a short one? Or perhaps you could try to have the 2 older ones start looking through the available books around supper time to find one they can agree on for bedtime, so they'll both listen to the same story and cut back on lengthening the bedtime routine.
post #8 of 20

last part of my response

What else are they doing that interests them instead of read-alouds, when you offer? I have found my worst enemy when it comes to competition for reading time is anything electronic. They will forego almost anything else to have a story at any time of the day, but not the screens! How about reading to them while they are having breakfast, lunch or snack? Maybe you could try giving the baby a board book to look at in his/her high chair while you read to the older ones.

Not sure if any of this helps, but I hope so.

post #9 of 20
We're voracious readers.

We build read-alouds into our routines (every.single.night at bedtime), go to the library often and have lots of children's books lying around. We rarely use book lists. We just pick what we like.

Some suggestions:

How about playing audio books (collections of shorter stories) in the car, e.g. Frog & Toad?

Perhaps you could try the library reading time again? A lot can change in 2 years. It's also fun to go "just because" and browse the stacks. It's okay if they need to learn to love it

Do they have their own library cards yet? My kids think that having their own cards is rather fabulous and makes them even more eager to check out books.

When selecting books, I'd totally focus on what they're interested and skip the book lists for now.

Do you think they'd enjoy making their own books? You can make a shape book (e.g. shaped like a leaf or heart or whatever they like) and then let him (or her) dictate a story to you.

You can let them play quietly with toys while you read to them. They don't need to sit and gaze adoringly up at momma... although that's always fun to dream about

Do you have an evening routine at all? Build storytime into that. You might have to be assertive about it at first. Read with enthusiasm, even if no one seems to be paying attention to you. They probably are listening (at least a little) and you'll suck them in eventually.

You can also read aloud at meal times. Again, think: captive audience. They've gotta eat, might as well give them something interesting to listen to while they do it.

Hope there was something helpful in here. Best wishes
post #10 of 20

One more tip

I just thought of something else - do your kids get any of their own magazines? An easy way to get short bursts of reading in would be to have magazines around and read just one article at a time. Sometimes boys are more receptive to this, especially with the non-fiction selections. My boys like Chirp, Chickadee, Know and Yes mags.

post #11 of 20
Do your children see you reading? I feel that by making the effort to fill my cup and read everyday, that in a way it's rubbed off on my son. I have a little cozy spot I like to sit at, and I made one for him too with a pillow a blanket and basket of books. After a long outing or a burst of high energy, I find my son is more receptive to looking at books, or having me read to him. He has his own library card too and each time I go to the library I try and have at least one book reserved for him, which is always so cool for him since he loves suprises. Then I let him go upstairs and pick out a couple books if he asks, or he simply plays. We also have a routine of reading a book or two at night.

I wonder though if reading is just not fun for some. Like maybe it's a personality thing. My hubby doesn't read books either, never has, but if it's a magazine about things he enjoys then he will read.
post #12 of 20
Originally Posted by mimaja View Post
I just thought of something else - do your kids get any of their own magazines? An easy way to get short bursts of reading in would be to have magazines around and read just one article at a time. Sometimes boys are more receptive to this, especially with the non-fiction selections. My boys like Chirp, Chickadee, Know and Yes mags.

This is a great suggestion too. I love the entire Cricket/Carus line of magazines. They have literary magazines for all ages (DD has gotten Babybug since she was about 6 months, and just started getting Ladybug), and subject magazines. We also get Ask, which is a little bit above her but she'll grow into it soon enough I'm sure.

I also really like the National Wildlife Federation range. Wild Animal Baby is for babies, and then My Big Backyard is for preschoolers and Ranger Rick is for early elementary. We've gotten Wild Animal Baby since DD was a baby, and we're going to move on to My Big Backyard soon.

DD loves her magazines, and carries them around in a big pile and reads them over and over and over again. The Babybug/Ladybug ones really have quality literature and artwork.
post #13 of 20
Thread Starter 
Wow! What a tremendous bounty of responses!! I must say thank you first of all!

Now, the library: great idea in concept; bad when applied. Except when I have another adult available to help. We have a smallish rural library that is sorta bare bones. They have a fish tank......that's about as interesting as it gets. LOL DS1 is impossible at this age to take there and he's not ready to hang with the grandparents and be left behind either. That puts a damper on the whole library experience.

Bedtime does have a routine but once again DS1 seems to set the stage for that as well. If he's had a regular day and asleep before them GREAT!! We actually do get to read a couple of stories at bedtime. But if he's not cooperating about going to sleep then he's in the mix and well, it's just harder then.

And YES, screen time does sometimes trump reading especially if they are on a "role" with a game or feel they need to get their fair amount of time in. I am actually getting them a bit further away from the screens of late which I find to be a good thing. And I have done meal time reading which does work pretty well. Like pp said, "captive!" LOL

I have thought of the mag My Big Backyard but haven't heard of the others (thank you!). That might do the trick for DS6. If he's anything like his dad and papa it's all about the mags! So there may indeed be some personality influencing all this. DD4 is much more receptive to being read to and actually LIKES bigger (more adult) book selections. She will surprisingly sit through a long story with minimal (if any) pictures.

Thank you all again for all the wonderful ideas and suggestions! Greatly appreciated!
post #14 of 20
About the library experience: could you go around baby's naptime and have him fall asleep in a Snugli/carrier/stroller since it's pretty boring there?
post #15 of 20
Comic books are fun to read together.
post #16 of 20
We don't get a lot of library books because I don't want to have to try and keep the books sorted from our own. We easily have 250 board and picture books. Possibly many more. I have many of them memorized from having read them time after time. Most books have been read multiple times.

When there's something I want to introduce to the kids (or they are interested in a subject) I ask for book recommendations here and I go to amazon.com and do a search. I buy based on the reviews. Once you've chosen your books, a good place to actually search for them is www.allbookstores.com as they search for the cheapest books at numerous sites.

We've been reading to our kids since they were a couple months old. First with fabric books and board books and then into more complicated board books and picture books. My son is 4.5 and we are just now into our first chapter book. Both of my kids have always loved reading. We do not have a reading routine, we just read throughout the day. I try and be very animated when I read. (This is really important.) When the kids are really little I don't always read the words, just point to pictures. My daughter just turned 2 and she's not liking that so much, she wants me to read the words.

We let them take turns choosing books. Sometimes I'll easily read for 45 minutes at a time. The first thing they want to do in the morning is read. Then they want to do it throughout the day, then at night. We may have 6 reading sessions throughout the day. If there's a book I want to try and my son does his normal resistance to something new, I just tell him I want to read it. I sit down and start reading. Soon he's in my lap and often he ends up liking the book.

We also use the sonlight list. I pick and choose which books I think are appropriate to our family.

My recommendation is to turn off the screens then sit down and start reading out loud to yourself and read with gusto. The kids will come to you. Open up your lap and have fun. Tell them they can each choose a book (or three.)

Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb http://www.amazon.com/Fingers-Thumb-...2628874&sr=8-1 was my son's first favorite book. Even now he loves it. It's a musical book with a great beat. If you read it monotone it is a stupid book.

A great board book: http://www.amazon.com/Barnyard-Dance...628995&sr=1-19 I stomp my feet to a square dance beat and call this out like I was the fiddler myself.

Great pictures and wonderful rhyming story: http://www.amazon.com/Seven-Silly-Ea...2629046&sr=1-1

Good series: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss...29_1445&fsc=-1

Great intro to classic art (there's a whole series) http://www.amazon.com/Touch-Art-Brus...2629133&sr=1-1

We got the Laura Ingalls Wilder picture books http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss....70_298&fsc=-1 When I wanted to try (again) to see if my son was ready for chapter books I got the classic Little house in the big woods. My son was resistant so I just sat down and started reading. Of course, the first chapter is all about hunting and slaughter and we are hard core vegetarians so I really had to edit as I read. However, the second chapter was the foundation for http://www.amazon.com/Winter-Days-Bi...629434&sr=1-14 I made a huge deal about how this was all in the other book. I got out the picture book and we compared sections. He was hook, line, and sinkered into the chapter book.

My son really likes the Richard Scarry books http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss....155_148&fsc=4 He loves to look at the pictures. These were written awhile back so can be outdated in content. Like the child that goes to the hospital to have their tonsils taken out and the mom can't stay with the child. I tell him that's not how it is any more and he's okay with it. Try "what people do all day" http://www.amazon.com/Richard-Scarry...2630064&sr=1-1 or the please and thank you book.

So, again, just read out loud with great animation and the kids will come to you.

ETA: I can recommend a ton and a bunch of books. Tell me what your kids are interested in or what you would like to introduce them to and I'll see if I can recommend anything. Most of the books I referenced above can be bought for a penny plus $3.99 shipping used at amazon. Look at their used price box. If there's a choice to "Show # more formats" choose that to see what other options are available.
post #17 of 20
Each kid in our house gets to pick their own story to be read aloud at bedtime-- there are very few books that interest both my youngest and my oldest, and if a child is not interested in the book chosen by their sibling, they don't have to listen, but they can't be disruptive either (disruptive kids are asked to leave the room). I agree with pp that its important to turn screens off during reading time (at least in the room where you're reading).

Could your husband keep your youngest busy while you read to your older two? Could you go to the library on the weekends or in the evening with the older two while he watches the youngest? Would the grandparents be interested in taking the older two to the library while you hang out with the baby? My library lets me request books online, and anyone who has my library card can pick the books up for me-- that would be a way for you to still have some input on what books are chosen.


post #18 of 20


I think quantity of books helps. We get tons and tons from the library (anywhere from 40-60 books at a time). Series are a great way to get them into reading - they like seeing familiar characters (like Franklin, Fancy Nancy, Richard Scary stories). Try different illustrators. My ds loved really busy pictures with lots going on, my dd liked more traditional pictures.

I read a study recently that made my day! It said that the children who grow up to be readers aren't the ones who are read to every day, it's the ones whose mothers keep shooing them away because they really want to finish just one more chapter. Love that!! But seriously, I think our love of reading rubs off on our kids.
post #19 of 20
My daughter always loved books but my son really wasn't into it and rarely ever asked for us to read to him. We were a bit surprised when, at about 4.5 we found out he could read quite well. And while I do love to read, I honestly didn't get much reading done when the kids were younger, and therefore couldn't have been much of a role model.

To be honest, my son learned a lot of reading from playing video games and needing to know how to read certain words in order to navigate menus. My daughter learned the alphabet from a computer game when she was about 16 months old. Screen time is not necessarily a bad thing. Maybe some people just don't like reading as a hobby/interest but rather just use it as a tool.

Both DH and I were early readers and I think a lot of it is genetics.

I actually am not convinced that anybody needs to have reading "instilled" into them. It's kind of hard to do pretty much anything in our society without needing to read, so I really feel at some point your kids will be motivated to read, even if you are not "working at it". Age 6 is still pretty young, and perhaps reading just doesn't interest them right now.
post #20 of 20
Re: keeping library books separate:
Growing up we had a TON of books from the library's store where they sold off books they took out of circulation for whatever reason. To keep those straight from all the other library books, mom marked the spines with a dot of red nail polish.

The best way to handle library books, imo, is to have one place for books coming in and as you read them put them in a container for taking back to the library.
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