Our Reading Journey: From Hating to Loving to Read
My first child Bjorn didn’t love to read but you’d never know that today. Today, he’s either playing a video game or reading a book. It’s always some sort of fantasy type fiction book. When he was in grade school the rule was you have to read as many minutes per day as you are years old. So when he was 7 he had to read 7 minutes a day. We started out with picture books and it was time to make the transition to chapter books. He didn’t want to read chapter books and he fought us hard but we stood our ground.
Many years later he loves to read and reads very thick chapter books. The librarians at school and the local library all know him. His library card gets heavy use. In elementary school one of the most fulfilling things he did was help other kids learn to read. All these years later, if you go to his room you’ll see this note on his doorknob from one of the kids he mentored as a 6th grader…
Here’s the progression. We introduced him to books by listening to Audiobooks –> he found a story that interested him –> he wanted his own books.
I asked him, what changed and made you love to read? He said the main thing that finally helped him get over his fear of reading was listening to books. I played them in the car with a CD or we listened to them at other times. When he found a story he loved and really got into the story, he started seeing how rewarding it is to read. Today he prides himself on knowing obscure authors. He knows when their newest books are coming out.
Today, for most holidays or birthdays he happily gets Amazon gift cards Amazon Gift Cards for his birthday and he uses to buy books. You’ll find him reading books most days – he reads between 1-3 books (thick books!) a week.
Reading regularly has made him a better writer (another thing he struggled with) and thinker. Plus, he found something to love that will forever enrich his whole life. As a mom I’m proud of him! He’s not naturally likes being social or super involved in a lot of different things but he has loved reading for years now.
Establish a Habit of Reading and Make it Fun
Alexis, at age 5, is in the stage of being read and preparing to read. She is open to books and much more outgoing than Bjorn is. Still, we need to take time to read and discuss books with her. We need to establish a habit of reading. One way that really helps us remember to read regularly is subscribing to a children’s subscription box called Bookroo. They are a locally owned (Utah) company started by a family who loves books.
Get the whole family involved in reading. Here’s Alexis reading her books with her grandparents.
Subscribe to a Book Box Service
A book subscription box like Bookroo, helps build your library and introduces your kids to new books they otherwise wouldn’t discover. The part that I love most about Bookroo is that the books are curated by families who have tested the books and voted on the very best ones. Bookroo is cheaper than buying the books separately and saves you time trying to find and purchase books for your kids.
Bookroo wants to help you discover the hidden gems, not classic books. There’s a variety of books every month. Everyone loves getting a package on the doorstep and it’s monthly arrival makes us look forward to setting aside time to read together.
Bookroo books come individually wrapped so each box is a present. You can choose between a box for toddlers that has 3 board books or a box for older kids (to age 6) that has 2 picture books. I believe they are adding another tier for older kids next.
Some moms (that I call professional moms) look for coloring pages or crafts to go along with the books they’re kids read. I’m sure you can find ideas on Pinterest! I’m more of a get it done mom who wants to make it as easy as possible to reach our goal of reading to our daughter daily. Sometimes her grandparents take a day (they live across the street from us). So it truly becomes a family affair!
Give Books as Rewards Instead of Cheap Toys or Junk Food
I feel like too many times we give kids either meaningless junk or we give junk food as a reward. Most of the things we get at birthday parties or from classmates at school are a bag of Dollar Store treats. We end up throwing most of it away. I get some environmental guilt to go with it. If we don’t throw some of these things away toys like this just add to the clutter in our home. We are constantly sifting through trinkets (as Stephen calls them). They end up in our car and strewn across her room.
Another problem we have is trying to curb sugar. Alexis would exist on sugar if we let her. She has a big sweet tooth (she showed me exactly which tooth it is!). In class and on holidays most of the gifts are junk food of some sort. As parents we have to find ways to limit the junk and help our kids find things to give that are longer lasting (such as experiences or possessions that we keep around for years) and healthier.
The way Bookroo packages the books makes getting and reading a book feel special. To me this is the perfect gift for grandparents to give for Christmas or birthdays because it lasts longer. In addition, they are not something you do once and then discarded. Books can be read again and again. It’s something we can give her close friends as gifts too (it’s always a challenge to think of something to give). It’s perfect for a child’s first birthday.
Have you ever had your parents give your child a book and have your child seem a little disappointed? Like they do when they get clothes or socks for Christmas? They act like maybe they’d rather have something else? Bookroo helps with that too – it will elevate the gift into something exciting and kids won’t see it as boring or educational gifts, but as something fun.
Teaching a Child to Read Takes Consistent Effort Over Time
I forgot just how much goes into learning to read until we enrolled Alexis in a program called Waterford Upstart. She wasn’t teaching herself and Stephen’s attempts to teach her weren’t going especially far. She was memorizing words but not learning to read. Waterford Upstart is a free online program that your child does for 15 minutes a day, 5 days a week. I believe it’s available in all states. We have only missed one day so far and she is still on the preparing to read portion of the lessons. My favorite part is when she recognizes patterns with letters or words that she learned in the program.
They give reports like this:
Upstart sends weekly emails with tips to help your child learn to read. I’ve seen a HUGE difference in Alexis and her comprehension and awareness of letters and sounds thanks to this program. I think it goes well with Bookroo and their reading app, because it gives us time to go over and reinforce what she’s learning on Upstart. We can point out letters, talk about sounds and ask questions as we read together to help her grasp key concepts.
Be sure to set a consistent time to read or prepare to read each day.
Overall, we feel our time invested in helping our kids love reading has paid off for all of us. It’s fulfilling to see them develop a new skill, talent and love of reading. My own mom reads a lot and we share books – it’s one more way to bond no matter how many years we have between us. My mom was an elementary school teacher and has taught many kids to read. She is a pro at it. I need a little more help. These two things (a regular schedule of Waterford Upstart and reading books from Bookroo) have been really helpful for me and my family.
How have you taught your kids how to read and developed a love of reading in your home?