Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Baby Paul: Instilling a Love of Reading

I read a depressing article recently in my local newspaper about the steady decline of reading by teens. 1/3 of all high school students don't read for pleasure and fewer than 20 percent read every day. Compare this to the 1970s when 60 percent of high school seniors read a book, a magazine or a newspaper every day. Instead, teens spend their time playing video games and on social media.

How sad is that? As an adult, I know how tempting it is to spend times on your phone checking your social media account of choice, but I still much prefer reading as evidenced by the fact that I've already read 56 books this year despite being a busy working mom. I don't mean to toot my own horn by saying that - it's just evidence of my choice to choose reading over tv or screen time. That's not to say that I don't waste time on my phone - I certainly do. I just waste less time than I could because my love of reading keeps my phone habits in check.

Reading Little Blue Truck, our favorite book!
So far, it is very clear that Paul LOVES being read to. When he was sick earlier this month, one of the few things that would make him happy or distract him from how awful he felt was reading to him. I'm actually really surprised by how much he enjoys being read to. I didn't expect him to love being read to as much as he does at this age, but you can tell how much he loves it as he is clearly very captivated and studies each page.

Books are part of every day life in our house. We read a couple when we are hanging out before bedtime and we read 1-2 books at bedtime depending on his attention level/how close he is to an exhaustion-induced meltdown. ;)

He loves this cloth "Jungly Tails" book!

But as Paul gets older and makes more independent choices, we want to do what we can to make sure to instill a love of reading. There's so much research about how a love of reading will benefit a child throughout their life. So our quest to make sure Paul continues to read is about more than passing on our personal hobby. It's also about setting him up for success in life and instilling a curiosity about the world.

Being read to by Grandma Joan
I think back to why I became such a voracious reader, and credit it mostly to my parents and grandparents - all of which were/are avid readers. Phil and I are clearly readers, hence our book-themed wedding, and his grandparents, one of which is a retired English teacher, are avid readers. He already has a huge collection of books, thanks to my baby shower + generous gifts from friends, and I know he'll continue to receive books as gifts for Christmas and birthdays in years to come. So I think we will lay the foundation for raising a reader.

But I know the biggest challenge will be overcoming the allure of smart phones, tablets and whatever gadgets are developed in the years to come. So I know we need to be intentional about the choices we will make as parents to ensure that he continues to choose to read books. As a new parent, I won't pretend to have all the answers (or any of them, really!), but I'm determined to figure this out as Paul grows up!

What helped instill your love of reading?


The Many Thoughts of a Reader said...

I always had books available to me. My mom always had a stack next to her bed and always read magazines too. I would read ANYTHING I could get my hands on. My grandma read constantly as well. My dad read the newspaper every single night and my grandpa always read USA Today in the morning. So yes, seeing reading was a big thing. I also hate the cold/winter and I could get out of having to play outside in that crap if I was quietly reading. WOO!

Alli said...

Ugh I struggle all the time with this. I know I became a reader because my mom always had a book in her hand and we made a trip to the library most weeks. These days though, I am pretty strictly reading on an e-reader. I never thought I'd be converted to paper books, but I used to always bring a book with me on the subway which made my bag that much heavier. I realized how much easier and more convenient it was to just carry my iPad. I love the fact that I can download books when they are ready so if I'm away I can still get my books rather than having to physically go to the library. But now I struggle with the fact that Aaron isn't seeing me with a book. Sigh. I legit want to design some sort of cover that makes an e-reader look like you're reading an actual book. On the upside, Aaron does enjoy being read to and he loooves when he gets to turn the pages.

Stephany said...

Like you, it was my mom who instilled a love of reading in me. She took me to the library every weekend and we would spend our Saturdays just lying in bed, reading. It's such a fond memory I have. I really think instilling a love of reading comes down to the parents and how they model it for their kids. Of course, kids have their own free will and may want to do the exact OPPOSITE of what they see their parents doing. I mean, I'm a voracious reader, but my brother is not. I don't think he's read a book since he finished high school over a decade ago. =/ My nephew isn't a reader and I attribute that to the fact that my brother and sister-in-law aren't readers, either. He doesn't see it modeled as something to do for fun; it's always something he HAS to do for school. It's an assignment.

I hope Paul loves reading as much as you and Phil do, but I would be shocked if he wasn't a reader based on the kind of home life you guys are cultivating!

Carolina John said...

I still read bedtime stories to the kids every night even though they are in middle school now. We should have stopped it years ago. Now we do young adult novels and read a chapter or two every night. My favorite for them are the Nancy Drew books. I've tried to convince them to read for themselves but they still prefer the family time together bonding over books.

Jeanie said...

I hope Kevin and Molly will come at the boys as you do. I know we will do our best with stories and books. I'm thrilled Paul already seems to be into it.

What inspired me to read? I honestly can't remember. I just know I have loved it since I was small. Certainly my mom teaching me phonics and how to sound out words and put the sounds together to make a word before I started school helped because it made reading easier and easy to to catch on. Then all those wonderful books... it was just like magic.

Amber said...

It's so awesome Paul is already so engrossed by books!! Olivia is just now starting to follow along when I read to her and actually tonight for the first time ever she turned the pages herself for the Going to Bed Book (which we read every night before bed!) now, she turned them a little faster than I was reading ;) but hey, it was a start!!

I definitely want to make sure Olivia loves reading too. I think screen time is fine - and almost impossible to avoid in today's world - but I definitely think it's going to be very important to have caps on it and rules around it. I also plan to continue reading to Olivia daily and really hope it will instill a love of reading in her as well. I was read to every single night before bed for as far back as I can remember, and I saw my parents reading a lot, so I think both those things helped instill a love of reading in me.

Charbelle said...

I struggled to learn to read. I was always the youngest in my class due to my August birthday. I couldn't read until the end of 1st grade. Both of my parents loved to read, my grandmother was a voracious reader. My mom read to me and my brother. I had trouble comprehending words, I think. When the light bulb finally went off and I was able to start reading, I've never stopped! I used to get in trouble for having a book on my lap hidden by my desk during class. Those were the days when you had a desk you would put stuff inside, the old metal one with the wood top, they were perfect for book hiding! During the summer my Mom would take us to the library to pick out books. I read Gone with the Wind when I was in 8th grade. Unfortunately, I didn't marry someone who also enjoys reading. He can't understand how I can get so wrapped up in a book. He hasn't made reading a priority and therefore C doesn't like to read. He did implement the 20 minutes of reading in the morning during the summer before any screen time which I appreciated. It is easy to be distracted by social media and I have the Kindle app on my phone but I prefer my Kindle paperwhite because it's less "tempting" to go check FB and IG!

Marlys said...

He's on the fast track to becoming an avid reader! I'm proud of you for that as it takes time to do what you are doing. The great thing about having more children is that the older ones always read to the little ones and that helped develop their reading abilities, too! I remember when Abby was born, how eager you and your siblings were to read to her right from the get go!

Gracie said...

I remember visiting one of our godchildren when he was about 10 weeks old. He was fussy, so I started reading him a book, and he calmed down and got really into it. His mom was kind of taken aback! She couldn't get over how interested he was in the book at that age. But I think little babies will appreciate books, even if it just starts with the soothing sound of mom's voice.

Jolene - EverydayFoodie said...

As long as I can remember I've loved to read. I think my mom instilled that love in me; she had me reading before I went to kindergarten. I try to instill this love in my students. I am always reading middle years novels so that I can offer up many good suggestions based on interests, and so that I choose novels to read aloud/ study in class that are super engaging.

katielookingforward said...

I think I was a reader because I was the oldest kid on my mom's side of the family. so yes my aunts and uncles would play with me, but we would also sit around the cabin reading. as Paul gets older I hope you blog about what books you are recommending for his age, as I girl who grew up with babysitters club and the sweet valley series while they weren't the most difficult books, they instilled a love of reading, and I was able to branch out of that genre. I think boys sometimes have a harder time finding the right books to engage them at younger ages (meaning middle school/below).

San said...

I am very happy that there weren't computers and smartphones around growing up, as much as I appreciate them now. I had a book to my hand glued at all times when I was little. A great-aunt gave us books of a book series every year for our birthdays and I couldn't wait to get a new sequel in my hands!

I think parents have to lead by example and encourage reading from a young age... and with both you and Phil being readers, I think you're off to a good start.