Some parents have asked: How did I get Dale to love reading? What is the secret to how to raise a reader?
Looking back, I see that what really made the difference was sharing the joy of reading that began long before ever thinking about teaching him to read.
How a new mom stumbles upon a method for how to raise a reader
I vividly remember those dreary rainy days when Dale was two months old and nursing all the time. I had so little sleep and was completely out of my element as a new, older mom. For some reason I thought my babysitting experience and being an older sister had prepared me. Hah!
Our blissful first month with Pierre at home caring for both of us was over. Pierre was just beginning a new phase as an engineer for the state department of water resources as we headed into a wet year. We transitioned from happy daddy at home to stressed daddy learning a new job and having to work way overtime.
And I sat in the rocker, staring out the window at the rain, disheveled, overwhelmed, and unwashed; and nursed and nursed and nursed.
One afternoon I used a pillow to help me hold Dale at a level that was more comfortable. Ahh, that felt better, now I could move my other arm. I reached over for the nearest book, a how-to baby book, and started reading aloud from the section on Sleep. “Hah, it says here you are supposed to be sleeping 16 out of your 24 hours. Listen to this…” I continued reading aloud, stumbling over the convoluted sentences, but only got more frustrated as I read about what someone else told me my baby should be doing.
I put that book aside and reached for the next book in the stack. It was a smallish paperback, a mystery. Oh this was much easier to hold. And read. The story was funny and the writing was good.
Once I finished cooing, and gazing adoringly into my child’s eyes, I picked up a book and began to read, aloud.
I’d interrupt the text, look at Dale, ask him questions, and share my reactions, conversing as if he was totally capable of understanding and communicating. He continued nursing contentedly and I relaxed into the story and the rhythm of our day.
Call me crazy, but it made logging those hours in the rocker much more enjoyable.
Light Bulb and Mea Culpa Moment
I realized that as a teacher I had always encouraged parents to read aloud TO their children every day. And I planned on doing that with my child. But I had only envisioned reading bedtime stories and picture books TO the child as a prescribed method of how to turn your child into a reader.
Pierre and I both love to read and had always discussed what we were reading, encouraged each other to read books we were enjoying, and read aloud to each other. Bet you didn’t know that reading aloud on the beach is a great way to start a relationship for the late bloomer. I wonder if any other couple has as many read aloud and library dates as us? It made no sense, given our history of sharing the love of reading, that I suddenly saw reading as another parental should rather than a personal want.
So this reading aloud that started in the rocker, really to maintain my sanity, shifted my whole concept of reading aloud for me. It changed it from reading TO to reading WITH. I could focus on simply sharing MY LOVE OF READING, instead of trying to teach that reading is important. It helped remind me about the joy and ease of being inspired by doing things we love with ones we love.
How to Raise a Reader Take Away
Share your love of reading.
Read WITH your child.
If you want to raise a reader, start by loving to read and then spreading the love, because R is for Read.
This is what worked for us. I’d love to hear your thoughts? Please share your story in the comments. Thanks, Lisa