Here are some of my top tips for instilling the love of reading in your kiddos - I'm sure I will have many more tips to add as my children grow! In order of importance, here we go:
1) Create a cozy space just for reading in your home.
From the day our daughter was born we had a book nook. Our first one was behind our couch in our old home, right next to the window so we had natural light and could always see when Papi came home from work. In our current house, it's on the second floor in this empty space under the stairs, still with a window and natural light (cuz that's my thing). It doesn't matter where you have it - it could just be a corner of a bedroom. The important elements are a bookshelf or baskets with a variety of age-appropriate books, and blanks, pillows, stuffed animals and/or chairs and beanbags...anything to make it cozy and inviting. The options here are limitless!
Another tip that ties into this one is to start asking for books as gifts. Research some good ones, make an Amazon wishlist, and start sending it out when a birthday or holiday is approaching. You can also keep an eye on your local libraries - about 1-2 times a year, libraries clear their shelves and sell books very cheaply! Likewise, keep an eye on yardsale pages on Facebook, or simply ask friends with kids older than yours if they have any old books they'd like to pass on.
2) Make time for reading, every day.
For us, our daily reading time is before bed. It's routine, so when we don't have time for it the kids are naturally upset. Every night we all snuggle up in the book nook and read a variety or books with the kids. Sometimes they take turns choosing books while one parent reads, sometimes they each go with a separate parent and get to listen to all books of their own choosing, it really depends. The point is, it happens. Every night. Also, since I stay home with the kids, often times we will read together during the day also.
If your children are a little older (think 4 and up) you can start implementing independent reading time. This would be a time where everyone, you included, drops everything and sits down to read. In school this is often called DEAR (Drop Everything And Read, duh). This can range in time, from 10 minutes to 90 minutes, depending on you, your children's ages, and so many other things. It also ties into step 5 below, which is having your child see you read.
3) Go to the library regularly
Almost all libraries offer story time - if yours does, and you are available at that time, make it a priority! It is seriously one of the best ways to get your children familiar with the library in a way you can both share. I know this isn't a reality for every parent though, so just getting to the library, browsing the selections, and letting your child chose books he/she is interested in s a great motivator for kids! Bring some books home and have a special basket in your reading area for library books. Your child will be excited to exchange their books each week/month.
4) Be developmentally appropriate, but not too much.
As stated above, it's super important to provide children with developmentally appropriate books. This means board books and repetitive language for toddlers, more involved stories with lots of pictures for young children ages 2-7, chapter books for ages 7 and up, etc. HOWEVER, children's auditory comprehension develops far faster than their ability to read, so what's also important is that whe you read books together, try to chose books one or two bar above where they are independantly. For example: My daughter is 3.5. She can't read on her own yet, but she can flip through pages and tell a storyin her head based on the pictures, and she can memorize books with short, repetitive language so once we've read them together enough times, she can "read" them on her own. However, she is now at the level where she can comprehend much more, and so we have started reading more folktales and fairy tales together, including ones with less pictures and longer text - sometimes even chapters. This provides a lot of opportunity to talk about new words, explain new concepts, and basically answer all of her "why' and "how" questions (which, I know, can be exhausting...but that's your child LEARNING, so do your best to answer their questions the best you can and never stop exposing them to new material!).
5) Love to read
I put this one at the bottom because, while it's important, I know some people just don't enjoy reading as adults, and I 100% believe that this won't necessarily impact your child's love of reading, IF you apply the above 4 steps. Also, "reading" to us looks different than it does for kids and different than it used to. With the use of tablets and eReaders, our children aren't always seeing us read books, they are seeing us staring at a screen. To them, it's no different than us using our phones or staring at a computer. So take note: SHOW them your eReader or tablet. Explain how it works and show them how to flip the pages. You may also want to download a children's digital book on Amazon and read it with them on your eReader or tablet so they understand the concept of reading using technology.
Obviously some of us are still using old-fashioned paper books ::gasp:: and that's fabulous - no extra work needed.
The point here is to read, something, anything, and have your children see you do it. Be a role model. Trust me, they are watching.
So that's it! My 5 top tips for creating readers. Have any to add to the list? Drop a comment below!