Tips for raising a reader

Two of my children are pretty avid readers so I want to share a few of the things we are doing (right, wrong, and otherwise) along with some professional tips. We do allow video games but we make time for reading books and magazines, too.

Here’s some stuff we do that seems to work:

  • Read every day. My first grader has a 20-minute suggested reading time for every school day. Since he’s in school and after-school for nearly the whole day, we keep books in the car and I get him to do his reading while I drive. Hey, that’s together time, right? {Keep reading this post so you know my children don’t exclusively read in the car.}
  • Let them see you read. Read for your own pleasure and make sure they catch you doing it. My husband is better than I am on this front.
  • Kindle, old school. There are many advantages of pure paper book-reading and also the Kindle Fire, but I like that the Kindle Paperwhite lets avid readers carry around hundreds (and maybe thousands!) of books without back-strain. It also keeps them focused on the written word rather than being distracted by other shiny things on the device. We splurged on the whole collection of Harry Potter and it can be shared easily with the rest of the family. Library books can also be checked out for FREE.
  • Read to your kids! Little kids crave reading together and it builds their brains. Big kids often like story-time just as much. Daddy reads some terrific chapter books at bedtime that the kids might not have the patience to get through on their own. I hope he never stops.
  • Join the summer library games. Each summer, we sign up for the Berkeley Public Library reading games. We fill in the tracking form as we slurp up books, when school is out. Then we usually lose the form right before claiming a prize — or we claim a prize and instantly regret the one we picked. P.S. Loving the library can start when you’re a baby!
  • Let them read ANYTHING. While I might prefer that my children advance their cultural literacy with every turn of the page, I’d much rather have them choose the book and be excited by it. In my house, that means Asterix books, LEGO catalogs, Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual, Calvin + Hobbes, Captain Underpants, and stories about a kid named Stink. I’m hoping my first grader falls in love with the Magic Treehouse series, but I’m nearly as happy that he can read all the words in his comics graphic novels.
  • Make some space for reading. In our home, we have a few good places to read: the reading nook behind the big chair, some couches, your own bed, and the guest room. Depending on what sort of lighting and comfort my kids are in the mood for, we’ve got them covered. Create a little reading space in a corner of your home and see what happens.

Find out what the professionals suggest to help children, teens, and reading over on Common Sense Media.

Berkeley library Branch Out celebration is April 2014


I am a voluntary ambassador and longtime fan of They provide thorough reviews of all matter of media aimed at kids to help parents make informed decisions. Wondering if The Hobbit books or movies are too mature for your sensitive child? Check there first!

[Photo credit: Copyright Richard Friedman, provided by Berkeley Public Library]