Art is often considered intrinsic to human expression. It is a vessel for emotion and…
Across generations, books have played a critical role in our shared childhood memories. Afternoons chasing the white rabbit to Wonderland, cracking the code alongside Nancy Drew, or falling into pace with the BFG. Our favourite characters became trusted confidants, and vice versa as they trusted us with their adventures. A love of reading is something best fostered in childhood and can shape our relationship with books for the rest of our lives.
My mother fondly likes to recount my favourite story as a toddler. Unlike my sisters who were quite content spending their afternoons annoying the dog (or me), she would find me awake in my cot reading When the Tiger Came to Tea. Granted, the first copy got torn to pieces, but the second was loved to pieces.
From this one book grew a great love for reading. I devoured book after book much like my favourite tiger tore through snacks, tea and bathtub water.
I credit my mother and my grandparents for encouraging, and nourishing us kids with books, discussion and a passion for literary worlds. Creating kids who retain good reading habits starts from day one, and as a grandparent or role model, you can have a significant impact on creating a lifelong reader.
Create a Book Positive Environment
Increasingly, there is a lot of outside noise and distractions that can keep busy minds from falling into reading. Even as an English major, I will admit, I would much rather spend the evening binging Netflix than pouring over Austen. Help your grandkids by creating a book positive environment, fill your shelves with different reads, and encourage quite independent reading (if they are old enough.) When reading together, turn your phone to silent, the TV off, and encourage a focus on leaving the real world for the text.
Have Time to Talk and Read Together
Set aside time to read together and start conversations with what they are reading. Not only will this encourage critical thinking and develop comprehensive skills, but it’s also fun! Remove the idea that reading has to be a stuffy solitary activity, it can be exciting and bring people together. They will appreciate time spent with you, as well as developing these key skills for later. When your grandkids are young, read their favourites to them, and introduce new books. Later, when they are more independent readers, read alongside them, taking a pause to grab a cup of tea and talk about what adventures you are immersed in.
Let Them Read What They Want To
Something that trips parents, grandparents, and even teachers up is the idea of what kids are expected to be reading. As such, we can expect kids to be reading thing they really don’t want to be. I’m sure we can all agree – if there is one way to create resentment over an activity, it’s by being forced into doing it! Let them read and seek out what they want to be reading. If that’s graphic novels, they are still reading. If they are still reading picture heavy books at ten, suggest adding one with fewer, but still present, pictures. There is a difference between pushing your child to develop their skills and expecting them to follow a guideline of what they should be reading at their age. Similarly, if your kid is particularly passionate, and seems to drift to massive, daunting, reads, let them try it out! They can determine whether it is too much, who knows, they may love it.
Start to set aside some reading time each day, where you both commit to having some reading time. Be consistent and develop this habit. Whether it’s 30minutes after lunch, before bed, or over breakfast, the most important thing is that reading is part of the day to day, just as brushing your teeth or walking the dog.
At the end, the most important part of creating lifelong readers is them seeing the passion in you. Fill your home with books, talk about them, read with them, and share this love for the fictional. Let us know what books you are reading with your grandkids, or what you like to do to help them start reading on our socials below.
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