I had one non-negotiable clause in my parent contract. My children had to like reading.
I didn’t much care what they read, because I read, well, just about everything. I just wanted them to like reading. It would make them smarter people. It would set them up for success in life. It would make them less likely to watch 15 hours of TV a day. (Don’t take my word for it: Here are some of the benefits of reading aloud to children.)
So as soon as they were born, basically, I read to them. Before naps. Snuggling on the couch. At bedtime. Every chance I got.
That’s the first part of a two-part strategy. The second? I made sure they saw me reading for fun. Books. Newspapers. Magazines. Everything. If you teach kids reading is a chore they have to do for school, they’ll hate it. If you show them reading is something you like to do, they’ll want to be like you.
I still read to them at bedtime. But now they’re both just as likely to sit side by side on the couch in the afternoon, reading their own books. Actually getting them to put down the book and have dinner can be a little difficult.
(I never ignored dinner for a book. Oh no. Not me. I also never tried reading and walking down the stairs at the same time. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Also, reading while walking down the stairs can be painful.)
I love that they love reading. Sometimes I take my own book – or my notebook with a work-in-progress – and I join them.
And then they hover over my shoulder and demand I read them the work-in-progress. And that’s well worth it too.