Teaching Children to Love Reading

Teaching Children to Love Reading

I have two children and my oldest is a girl. She is actually seven years older than her brother so she was virtually like an only child for those years. When she was still in my womb I was reading to her. I read anything and everything out loud, we talked, we prayed, we sang, and I even tried to discipline her while she was in there. When she was turned a certain way and giving me one her famous stretches that pressed a bit too hard on my bladder or side I would give her a little tap and tell her to stop, and she did!

We went on like that after she was born. She loved to listen to the written word; all she ever needed to keep her attention was someone reading to her. My grandma used to read to her out of the dictionary sometimes and she would get really quiet and listen. She read her the Word of God as well. She was a great listener.

I bought tons of books for her when she was tiny and we would sit and read them every night. She had a couple of favorites that she had me read over and over. She had listened and watched so many times that she had the books memorized and when she was around a year and a half old she would sit and read the books herself never missing a word and turning the pages at the exact right time. If someone was visiting our home and saw her sitting there reading out loud and turning the pages they would look on with an expression of shock and quickly ask me how she had learned to read so early! Of course she was just the most adorable thing you have ever seen!

As she got a little older in preparation for school we all took turns trying to teach her to read on her own. We knew she would want to be prepared because she always wanted to understand everything; she was very inquisitive and soaked in tons of information. She flatly refused to even listen when we tried to teach her. She told us emphatically that she wanted to be read to, she did not want to read! We were a bit concerned but we figured when she got into school, as much as she loved to listen to the written word, it would spur her on to reading on her own. And seeing the other kids learning we knew she would want to read even more.

Well, Kindergarten came and there were no pressures, they did not expect the children to read. This was not a private school, she was in public, and they did not expect the kids to read yet. She knew her ABC’s and her numbers and colors and she played well with other children so Kindergarten was a breeze. But then when we got into the first grade everything changed.

She started at a new school when she went into first grade because we had moved. She made friends quickly and loved her new teacher. Things were moving along nicely until they started reading lessons. One of her very best friends was already an avid reader because she had gone to private school and had learned to read in pre-K. Suddenly things were not so good. Since she had always been so bright and well spoken all of her family, friends, and even strangers had often complemented her on how very bright she was. So when she found out that her friend could read and she could not she was flabbergasted. She came home from school that day and really gave it to me! Why did I not teach her to read? Her friend had known how to read since pre-K! The nerve of this family she came from!

I did my best to explain that she flatly refused to learn how to read but this was something she already knew. But this was the very thing that spurred our girl into reading, the fact that someone else her age could and she could not! She went back to school and talked it over with her teacher and insisted that she learn how to read promptly. This particular teacher is still our friend today and she still enjoys telling the story about how fast our girl learned how to read that year. We were all amazed, and yet not really because this was the way our girl was when she set her mind to something! She learned to read in a matter of a few weeks so she could read as good as her little friend.

After this she could not get enough of books. She was always trying to out-read her school mates. If the reading requirements were one book a week then she would read two or three. If you could choose from a list of easy ready, moderate, or harder she would pick the harder. As she got older this continued for school assignments.

During middle school I got tickled with her at one point when we were out shopping one day at the bookstore. She was picking up a few books for younger readers and I asked her about it. She told me that they were just brain candy, easy and light reading to rest her mind a bit. It made me smile and still does when I think back. She is in her twenties now and is still reading constantly and sometimes I catch a glimpse of what she is reading. She looks up at me with a little sparkle in her eyes that I have seen many times over the years, a look that says, “Yes, Mom, more brain candy!”

Read to your children from the very start and show them a love for reading. Their lives will benefit greatly from having a love for reading. It is a wonderful gift to instill in the lives of our children.

Always curious, Ashley Hardway is constantly learning and passionate about sharing what she learns with others. Based in Houston, Texas, she loves to help families grow stronger, help their environments and communities, and keep moving forward! Check out @NannyLady on Twitter to connect and find out more.


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