How to Raise A Book Lover
“Few children learn to love books by themselves. Someone has to lure them into the wonderful world of the written word; someone has to show them the way.” (Orville Prescott, A Father Reads to His Children)
Many years ago, after a visit to our local library for a preschool storytime session, I was introduced to a program called 1000 Books Before Kindergarten. The program’s mission is simply “to promote reading to newborns, infants, and toddlers.” (source) It immediately caught my interest, and I grabbed the flyer for the program. It was the number that brought such interest to me — was it really possible to read 1000 books before kindergarten? But as the program explains, if you read 1 book a night for 3 years, you will have read 1,095 books. It is a very achievable goal, even for the busiest parents.
Raising book lovers doesn’t end when children reach kindergarten, however. It extends far beyond the teenage years, with a multitude of benefits for all ages. As Professor Deb Werrlein once wrote, “Reading aloud isn’t only about teaching literacy, it’s about sharing stories, and we can do that at any age.” Even if your child’s preschool years have long passed, raising a book lover is not an impossible goal when you take small consistent steps. Along with reading aloud every day, try these five tips to engage your children with creating, telling, and hearing stories.
Model by Example
The best way to raise a book lover is to become one. Be intentional about your own reading time. Set a reading goal for each day, week, or month, and set your phone alarm to keep you on track with your goals. Draw boundaries around your set times for reading, and model consistency. You can utilize an app like Leio, which tracks your progress and records your reading habits.
Listen to Audio Stories
No one in Austin is immune to experiencing traffic. Enrich your time in the car with audio stories. Sparkle Stories is a large collection of audio stories created by David & Lisabeth Sewell-McCann of Austin. With over 1,200 stories and over 40 topics to choose from, Sparkle Stories is a wonderful resource to introduce audio stories to your family. Listen in the car, on your phone, on the computer, or save stories for offline listening. If your child prefers to have something to do while listening, consider play dough, building blocks, or story threading with beads and string to help them focus.
Bring Stories to Life in the Kitchen
Raising book lovers revolves around the art of stories, by hearing them and telling them. Use your kitchen as a way to bring stories to life. Cookbook Bar and Cafe serves dishes and beverages inspired by culinary-themed books in the Austin Central Library. Recreate some dishes from your favorite books or cookbooks, and incorporate stories of your life or family history in the cooking process.
Give Your Child Story Building Tools
Many of us can remember a time in our childhood when mud became mud pies, sticks and leaves became magic wands, and rocks became priceless treasures. Introducing children to open-ended play with loose parts can enable their natural storytelling abilities. Loose parts can be anything from candlesticks and napkin rings, to burlap and twine, to flower pots and drawer knobs. Fairy Dust Teaching has many suggestions for materials for loose parts play.
Find a Support System
The Austin Public Library offers endless opportunities for story times, literary activities, workshops, and book clubs for all ages. If you find it difficult to attend events, consider an online support system. Read Aloud Revival is an online community led by Sarah Mackenzie, who helps parents stay consistent and encouraged in their reading goals. A premium membership can help you stay inspired in your journey, and includes additional benefits such as online master classes, online workshops, a Mama book club, and access to a resource library.
Raising book lovers is a slow, intentional process that can reap many lifelong benefits, and it is never too late to start on your family’s journey.
Creating, telling, and hearing stories in everyday life beyond the pages of a book is an ideal way to help you along the way.