“Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.” — James Baldwin
I have a radical idea for you today. If your child comes to you asking to play or read a story, try telling them, “Sorry, sweetie, I want to read now.”
Then go get a good book and hang out somewhere where your child can see you, and read. After a while, stop to share something interesting from what you’re reading and see if you can start a conversation with your child.
While this idea may seem counterintuitive at first — shouldn’t we read to our children as much as we can? — it makes a lot of sense when you think about it. You want your child to develop a self-concept as a reader. One of the best ways is to show them that you’re a reader.
Also, try to engage your child in casual conversation after you read books, newspapers, or other information (even food labels).
- “I read in the newspaper this morning that … ”
- “I’m reading a great book about the beginning of our country … ”
- “The label tells me that this peanut butter is better for us than that one … ”
Every one of these conversations helps children internalize that reading brings valuable information and insights into our lives.
“Sorry, sweetie, I want to read now.”
How much you read on your own — and the way you bring knowledge and stories from reading into conversation with your child — has a major impact on the likelihood of your child developing their own reading habit.
Of course, I’m not suggesting that you should usually decline to read or play with your child in favor of your own reading. But doing it now and then might be as good for her as it is for you.
Do this one thing
When your child comes to you asking to play or read a story, tell them, “Sorry, sweetie, I want to read now.” Then hang out somewhere where your child can see you reading.
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