Here's an excellent article by Colby and Aliana Sharp, about how they are raising their three (soon to be four) children as readers. Colby is a founding member of The Nerdy Book Club, and I've followed his blog for years, but this insight into how he and his wife foster a love of reading at home provides great tips to share with parents. I've always believed surrounding children with books makes it inevitable that they will explore them, even if they can't read them yet. Corralling them on a single bookcase means books are easier to overlook. Remember, books are competing in most houses for attention. Leave them everywhere--they're not clutter, they're decor:) Be a reader yourself. One of my friends, an avid reader and book reviewer, remembers her mother stirring a pot with a book in her hand. Dinner was often overcooked, but reading was established as something very important! For some of us, local bookstores are a thing of the past, but the internet can allow you to connect your child with authors, keep up to date on new releases, and yes, seek out those elusive author visits, even if you have to drive a bit. Other tips that Colby and Aliana share include giving books as gifts (that's all I send my nieces and nephews. Scour the end of the year best book lists if you're not familiar with new children's books, or give classics that you enjoyed.) Also, frequent visits to the library to ensure you have a great selection--our library allows unlimited checkouts, and I love seeing a child carrying a large sack of books out the door. While you're at the library, be sure to explore all there is on offer--let your children pick out CDs or videos, play with puzzles or toys, etc. Our library has an outdoor space connected to the children's library. Believe me, creating positive memories about the library don't just have to involve books, but they will get kids back in the door when they're older! There are several other interesting tips in this article, so be sure to read it in its entirety, then share with parents with young ones.
Raising Sharp Readers
I used to love reading with my mom; she'd be engrossed in a romance novel, but I didn't know any better and would read my older brothers hand me down books. He was a big reader, too, which meant that I was by default as well! We even consistently bought two copies of every Harry Potter book, even though he'd be finished before I made it more than a chapter or two in, simply because I wanted to read when they were reading, too!
I just discovered recently that our kids library has a whole bunch of audio books of children's stories! These are great for in the car, especially when I can find the matching book at the library (so my little one can follow along and see the pictures). I also really like trying out new children's music CDs at the library :) Last observation - I agree that one of the most important things is just for our kids to see us reading, too! It recently occurred to me that I have been reading a lot on my iPad (though I prefer hard copies) - and that my son may be too young to discern this as "reading a book." I'd love for him to remember me as someone who was often enjoying turning the pages of a good book, not buried in electronics!
I also agree with that line, @GetFitwithAmy! Fortunately there are still some great local bookstores in my area, but the children's section of the library is still one of my toddler's favorite places to go!