During my years of teaching, I met hundreds of kids who told me that they "didn't like reading." I have simply never understood how that's possible. How can anyone just "not like" reading? I can see not liking nonfiction, or not liking mysteries, or not liking romances, not liking science fiction, or not liking newspapers, or whatever, but not liking READING? That's like not liking breathing.
Or at least it is for me. But I was very lucky to have parents who read to me from a very young age. I can't remember a time when books weren't a huge part of my life. Probably because a time like that never existed for me.
And a time like that will never exist for my kids either. Ben and I are raising our kids to be readers, not because we sat down one day and decided to make this a priority, but because it's as natural to us as, well, breathing.
Our kids get stories at naptime every day and bedtime every night. That's just part of the routine. We read other stories for fun and "special treats" throughout the day. Each of my children (including 3-month-old Liam) has a bookshelf in their room. We have bookshelves in both the upstairs and downstairs playrooms. (And don't even get me started on the many, many books in boxes in the basement.) Books are part of the daily routine and the daily landscape of our lives.
Bryn and Shay take books everywhere with them. When I pack our diaper bag with things to keep them occupied at the doctor's office, in the car, or when we go out to eat, I pack books. When they climb into bed at night, they want to take in books. Sometimes it's hard to find a soft spot to lay two-year-old Shay in her crib amidst all the thick hardback storybooks that she insists on having with her to look at before she falls asleep and when she wakes up in the morning. Ben and I love that at 2 and 4, our kids are already going to bed with flashlights to read under the covers.
During the summer, I sign the girls up for every summer reading progam I can find and really hype up how awesome it is that they can be rewarded for doing something they love so much anyway. Just this week, they've already scored free books three times. On Tuesday, they turned in their first round of "bingo" cards for the summer reading program at our local library. They each got a small toy and a free book for this. They barely even glanced at the toys because they were so excited about picking out matching Strawberry Shortcake books.
We then proceeded onward to our local Lunch Bunch program, where the town and various groups partner to offer free healthy sack lunches and free gently used books once a week. Bryn picked out a Berenstein Bears book and Shay got a Beauty and the Beast book, and both girls were blissed out for the rest of the day. They've also both earned two rounds of prizes from the summer reading program in the next town over, but we haven't made it over there to pick those up yet.
Today we went to the local Half Price Books to turn in their reading logs for the week. This is an awesome program. If you've got one near you, you've got to do this program with your kids. You log the time your kids (ages 14 and under) spend reading. If they read for at least 15 minutes a day for 5 days a week, they get a gift card for $3 to Half Price Books. They can do this every week until the end of July. My girls LOVE getting the card each week and then getting to pick out any book they want to buy. Today they each got a Blue's Clues book, which I was less than thrilled about, but hey, they were both happy, and I've got kids who love reading, so I'm happy too. :)