I’ve always loved books. I don’t remember learning to read, I just remember always having my nose stuck in a book. When I was in elementary school, I used to read while walking to the bus stop. There was a sidewalk, but this still wasn’t the safest way to get where I was going. I walked straight into a pole…more than once (it’s fine; no one saw).
My book love remains true today. As a voracious reader who can’t stop talking about books, I’m often asked the same three questions: how do I make my kids love books, where do you find new titles, and how do you have time to read so much? I’ll be tackling all three questions in this post, so read on!
Question #1: How to Make Your Kid Love Reading:
If there’s anything I’ve learned as a parent, there’s very little you can make your kid love. But if you want to raise a reader and they aren’t that interested yet, here are some tips I’ve found that help encourage a love of reading.
- Create a fun bookish environment. Set up a cozy chair with a shelf of books nearby to make a book nook, or a little tent with imaginative pillows and stacks of books. A special spot for reading will be fun because it’s new, and then they’ll get in the habit of curling up with a book.
- Don’t make it a chore. I see so many cute signs on Pinterest that say something along the lines of “Want screen time? Have you brushed your teeth, made your bed, read for 20 minutes?” If reading is something they have to do before doing what they want to do, it won’t be the fun and relaxing activity they go to when they’re looking for something to do.
- Empower their choices. If they want to read a Minecraft book or a comic book or anything at all, that’s wonderful. High literature isn’t the goal — reading for fun is! So let them fill up their power bucket by getting to choose what they read. As long as the content is age appropriate, all reading is a great choice. Studies have shown that reading increases empathy and memory, along with other benefits.
- Take them to the library. They can choose many books, and it doesn’t cost any money. It’s the ‘store’ where you can say yes the most! They love getting to pick things out, and then they’re encouraged to read it because they only have it for a short time (though my checkout time is set to three weeks, it flies by).
- Talk about books. Ask them questions about what they chose, but like you would a friend. What was your favorite part? Which character did you like the best? What did you think about X? There’s no interrogation or testing component, just chatting about something they like. To make it more of a conversation, tell them about what you’re reading. Which brings me to…
- Practice what you preach. Let them see you reading! For the longest time, I put off doing what I wanted to do until my kids were asleep. But I’m still me, all of me, during the day; I can’t only live my life during their sleeping hours. So now they see me read, and paint, and work, and do things other than just parenting. I’m still parenting, too (though I have been known to hide in the closet for a five minute break!), but they’re learning to see me for who I am as a person and as their mom.
Question #2: Where do you find new books?
I have a few tried and true methods of finding new (to me) titles.
- Stalk your favorite authors. Loved a book you read a few years ago? Read everything that author has written. Follow them on social media, and you’ll stay up to date on when they have a new book coming out. Often, they also recommend authors they love. That helps me find new authors to
stalkread. There’s also a Facebook group called Friends and Fiction run by several bestselling authors, including Mary Kay Andrews, Mary Alice Monroe, Pattie Callahan Henry, Kristin Harmel, and Kristin Woodson Harvey where they interview other authors and talk books. They’re also full of recommendations. Yay, books!
- Goodreads. Goodreads is a social media site for book nerds. You can find all sorts of fun book lists, keep track of books you want to read, set and track reading goals for the year, and read and write book reviews. You can sign in with your Facebook account and see what your friends are reading. There are also great lists of the most popular books in each genre. It’s especially helpful in not checking the same book out from the library three times and not realizing it until you’re a chapter in (ahem, speaking from experience).
- Bookbub. Bookbub is a free email newsletter that sends you a list of discounted ebook titles. I comb the newsletter for books I’m interested in, then add them to my Goodreads Want to Read list. When I need a new title, I look at my list and then see if my library has that option as an ebook or hard copy.
- Book Clubs. I love book clubs! It’s a great way to push yourself outside of your genre comfort zone. Libraries and the YMCA often offer book clubs, or you can start one with your friends. If you aren’t ready to participate in one but want the recommendations, I like Reese Witherspoon’s Hello, Sunshine book club. She announces the picks at the beginning of the month, and I’ve enjoyed most of them.
Question #3: How do you have time to read so much?!
Well, I don’t. I have two kids, a spouse, two dogs, a fish I’d get in trouble for leaving out of this list, and I work from home part time. So I don’t have scads of time just lying about. I make time. I love reading. It fills me up and gives me life and I just couldn’t live without books, so I prioritize reading. I also sneak it in whenever I can. Eating lunch? I’m reading while eating. Sitting in the car pickup line? Reading. Taking a bath? Reading. Exercising? Reading. Making dinner? If I’m in the midst of a great book…reading. I just prop my Kindle up and keep reading.
My Kindle makes reading more accessible. I take it with me everywhere, so if I have ten minutes to wait for something, I can read. As I said above, I read in front of my kids. I talk about my books in front of my kids. They know books are an integral part of my life, and it has helped foster a love of reading in them (this is not to say you’ve done something wrong if you love reading and your kid doesn’t! We don’t all love the same things, and that’s part of what makes life interesting!).
The flip side of the time question is how I can afford to read so much. So here’s my little secret: I rarely buy books. Gulp. I admitted it. I mostly only buy books if I have a gift card, it isn’t available through the library, it’s an author I trust, or I’ve read it once and loved it so much I’ll want to read it again. So how do I read so much without spending mounds of money? The library. The Knox County Library has tons of ebooks. I can search for a book on my phone, and click a button and it’ll go to my Kindle. No wires, or turning on the computer, or any hassle at all. It’s magic and I love it.
Don’t have access to a library but love ebooks? I got a free trial of Kindle Unlimited and enjoyed it. When I cancelled the free trial, they offered me another three months. While they have a variety of books, because I’m often searching for a specific title, Kindle Unlimited wasn’t the best option for me. But if you’re browsing, it could be a great asset. Amazon also offers a free ebook for Prime members monthly, called Amazon First Reads. If you aren’t a Prime member, it’s $1.99.
Want to get started? Here are some book recommendations!
Great Books for Kids
- Rick Riordan (all series)
- Island of the Blue Dolphins, Scott O’Dell
- Hoot, Carl Hiassen
- The Elephant’s Girl, Celesta Rimington
Great Books for Teens
- The Hunger Games series, Suzanne Collins
- Flawed and Perfect, Cecelia Ahern
- The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas
- The Ten Thousand Doors of January, Alix E. Harrow
Great Authors for Adults
- Mary Kay Andrews
- Spencer Quinn
- Abbi Waxman
- Fredrik Backman
- Cecelia Ahern
- Colleen Oakley
- Jenny Colgan
- Malcolm Gladwell
- Sophie Kinsella
- Hazel Prior