I have always loved reading, it started with my grandfather’s elaborate bedtime stories when I was a child and became a bit of an obsession when my mom bought me classic book series such as “Maasdorp” and “Trompie”. Later on I discovered Harry Potter, Sabrina and Nancy Drew – but I would read anything and everything I could get my hands on. Books gave me the ability to travel, to believe in magic, transport myself to different worlds, have a brain filled with strange facts and general knowledge and to be whoever I wanted to be. During some of the toughest times of my childhood, and during some of the loneliest times, the characters books became my friends. Reading is incredible, and my love for it persists to this day. Hi, my name is Maz, and I am a read-aholic. “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.” ― George R.R. Martin, A Dance with Dragons It is so important for me that my kids develop a love for reading as well. I can already see myself in Mikayla – one of the most frustrating things for her is that she has not learned to read properly yet. She can spell out a few words, but she is so excited to go to “big school” next year so she can finally learn to read all by herself. It is common knowledge that reading has many developmental benefits for kids – a larger vocabulary, better grammar and spelling, writing skill – all of these are positively affected the more a child reads. Children learn from what they are exposed to; so the more they immerse themselves in great stories, the better their language skills will be. “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” ― Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut! Teaching our kids to read is one thing, but teaching our kids to LOVE to read… now that is what we really should be striving for. A love for reading is one of the biggest gifts you can give a child. Obviously a love for reading can’t be forced, and I’m sure there are exceptions to the things I am about to list, but I believe most children will learn to love reading if we practice just a few habits in the home. “Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” -Fredrick Douglas 1. Probably the most obvious, but read to them. I read to both my kids from before they were born. I read aloud to them while I was pregnant, and read them bed time stories as often as I could while they were babies and now that they are toddlers. Babies understand more than you may think, and although they cannot respond, they will be taking everything in that they hear. The first years of life are the most crucial to language development, and the more words children hear the better, so start reading early. The time spent reading a bedtime story is so beneficial on so many levels and it is also good to continue this practice when they’re older. Each of the ones that can read can take a turn being the reader, including mom and dad. What better way to encourage them to love reading than to build a fun family time around it? 2. Lead by example. Let them see you read, let them see the joy it brings you. There is always time to read – if there is time for watching TV, there is time to read. If there is time for Facebook, there is time to read. Your children need to see you reading your own books for your own pleasure, if they are going to want to do the same. 3. Have a well-stocked bookshelf. Fill bookshelves with books of different genres with interesting covers and titles; books that will pique your child’s interest. Give books to your kids as birthday or Christmas gifts. Give them to your kids as rewards. Let them know that you value books, and they will too. 4. Teach respect for books. The things we value are the things we treat carefully. That goes in reverse, too. If we teach our children to take good care of books, they will see them as having value. 5. Watch the movie. After reading the book, watch the movie.Doing this leads to great discussions, including the age-old question of which was better and why. We all love to compare the director’s conception of a book with our own imaginings of it. It will kind of suck if your child loves the movie more every time, but it is worth a try! 6. Sign up for a subscription like The Secret Book Box. I know, shameless advertising – but it is such a rad concept. The Secret Book Box is a themed monthly book box for children between the ages of 5-12 years. Every month a new theme is announced and boxes are prepared in line with that theme. You can then decide if you would like to purchase a box in that month’s theme. This is a single purchase and is not automatically renewed! Each box contains one age-appropriate, new release book, as well as 4-5 bookish goodies guaranteed to delight the young reader in your life.
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