Almost 18 years ago I had my first son and I had no idea what I was doing back then. As a reader myself, it never occurred to me that I would have to turn my son into a reader too. Not all people are readers – or people who read for pleasure and simple enjoyment. Yet, somewhere along the way, I managed to turn him into a reader and his brother as well. Now, my focus is turning my youngest two sons into readers as well.
How do I know my Older Boys are Readers?
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My oldest recently came to me and said he just finished All’s Quite on the Western Front…I asked if he read the book or watched the movie. He said both but the book was “way better.” My middle son also comes to me frequently me looking for recommendations for books as he’s out of books to read…or so he thinks! They happily read each night before bed, a routine I established with them by reading bedtime stories to them when they were younger.
Tips to Create Readers
I started reading to my boys from the time they were infants. Picture books, board books, even my graduate school textbooks….really anything that came to hand I read to them. We read in the morning, and in the afternoon but especially before bed. It was part of our bedtime routine and still is for my younger two. We have a bag of library books by their bed and the littles each pick one book for me to read. One of the twins even likes to grab the library book return bag and take it to bed with him to re-read his favorites! At any given time we have over 50 books checked out from our library!
The older boys still read for at least 30 minutes before bed, a requirement in our house. Electronics are turned in and TVs are shut off but they can read. I’ve found limiting screens prior to sleep has been so helpful in getting them a great night’s sleep too! I often have to remind them to turn out the lights and actually go to sleep and, of course, they argue back just one more chapter! While I love hearing they want to continue reading, sleep is important too!
While I firmly believe reading to my boys from an early age was the first step in turning them into readers, finding the perfect book was the final step that sent them down the path of becoming lifelong readers. For my oldest, it was Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan.
The movie had just been released but I told him he couldn’t watch it until he had read the book. Once he’d finished the book, we had a family movie night and watched the Percy Jackson movie. He immediately exclaimed that the book was so much better than the movie! And he was right…after decades of being a reader myself, I’ve always found books to be better than movies.
Shortly after he finished the Percy Jackson series, he moved on to the Harry Potter Series followed by the movies. We made Harry Potter-themed foods to watch with the movies and made a big family event out of it, celebrating each time he finished one of the books. Again, he claims the books were better, although he thinks they did a pretty good job with the Harry Potter movies.
We repeated this process with his younger brother and I’ll probably have to do it two more times with my younger sons. Sometimes my middle son regrets watching a movie before reading the book as he claims it ruins the book.
I like to call the first book they really get into the “hook” that drives them to read more. It “hooks” them into being readers. I prefer to use a book series because once invested in the characters they only want to read more. The longer the series the better the “hook” sinks in.
Reading through this I don’t think I did anything special or even purposeful to turn my boys into readers other than making reading fascinating, enjoyable, and a requirement in our house. While this might not work for every child, it certainly worked for two of my boys so I’ve got a 50% success rate so far!
Now to work on my last two….one is nearly there and one is still working on becoming a stronger reader. I have every confidence that as they get to the age where they are reading more independently I’ll find the perfect book to “hook” them into the wonderful amazing world of reading!