March is National Reading Month, but really, any time is a good time to read. And with today being Dr. Seuss’s birthday and Read Across America Day , it is the perfect time to begin some family habits to create lifelong readers out of your children.
When I was learning to read, my mother subscribed to the Weekly Reader Book Club. Every so often, a box would come in the mail with one or two books in it. What a fabulous day! I would rip open the box and immediately start reading. One of the first books I remember receiving was Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham . Whether this was pure coincidence, or my mother picked it especially for me because I was a picky eater, I don’t know. But I do know that my mother supported my love of reading from the very beginning with that book club subscription. And once I got the hang of it, there was no stopping me. I carried a book with me everywhere I went. I read all the time—even when I wasn’t supposed to. I was one of those kids who read under the covers when I was supposed to be sleeping. Sometimes my mother had to tell me to “put the book down and go outside and play” because I spent all my time reading.
When my children were young, I didn’t subscribe to the Weekly Reader Book Club, but we did go to the library a lot. When we moved into our current home, we were at the library the day we moved in, mortgage documents in hand to prove residency so we could have books to read when we went to bed that night. We didn’t have phone or internet service yet—but we did have library cards!
Now my daughter continues the legacy of reading with my grandson. They read books every day. At naptime. At playtime. At bedtime. Reading is an integral part of their routine.
Read together every day. Make reading a part of the bedtime routine: bath, jammies, teeth, story, bed. Or choose another time that is convenient for you; make it something to look forward to each day.
Model reading. If your children see you reading, they are more likely to read. Books, magazines, newspapers, cookbooks. It doesn’t matter what you read. Read and they will follow.
Create a reading-rich home. Have books readily available. Creating a home library doesn’t have to be expensive: you can borrow library books, or Freecycle groups offer them and second-hand stores are an inexpensive source. Friends of the Library book sales are, too. Subscribe to a magazine that aligns with your child’s interests. Provide a cozy place for reading. Choose reading over other activities.
Let children pick their reading. Explore your child’s interests or offer something new. Even if you have pre-selected some stories, hold them up and ask, “Which one would you like to read?”
Connect reading to the real world. Read a story about making cookies? Make some together. Read a story about animals? Head to the zoo. The reverse works, too: did your family watch the rover land on Mars? Check out some books about Mars, NASA or robots.
And, of course, it goes without saying, visit the library.
So, happy birthday, Dr. Seuss! Let’s celebrate by reading.