All parents worry about getting their child to read. Or at least I hope so, since I work as an editor, and I’m in big trouble if future generations aren’t going to be literate. And, of course, as an editor, I’d find it really upsetting if my kids didn’t love books. Fortunately, I’m finding it pretty easy. I’ve certainly been pushing the whole idea of reading to them every night. That’s probably the most simple rule around, but it’s important to remember that you don’t read to them as teaching. You just read to them so that they enjoy a story and get the notion that there are lots of other great stories hidden away in all those words in all those books that are all over the house.
I don’t know what to say if you don’t have books all over the house. My work has let me put together a huge library. Before I had my child, I was naturally offended to go into a house and not see books. Now I’m horrified to visit a mother and see there aren’t books everywhere. Yes, I am now a book snob–or a bigger book snob.
In that same spirit, I make sure my child sees my reading all the time. These are those precious few years where they actually want to be like their parents. It’s not unusual for me to be on the couch with two children, all of us reading our latest books. It’s supercute. We have more pictures of our kids with books than we do of our kids with our pets.
But just so I don’t sound too fanatical, I’ll add that I’m big believer in letting children read at their own pace. I was worried when my first pre-schooler didn’t show much patience for reading, but that changed soon enough. She just had to get old enough to have the patience for a story–and especially the thrill of waiting to see what happened next. I might have made too much of that, and paid a pretty heavy price by having to answer lots of questions about what was happening as my kids tried to anticipate the plotline. It turns out that questions are good, too. As long as you have time for when your children disagree and need to debate a point. You might not get insightful critical analysis, but at least it’s critical analysis.
The most important part is to remove any stress from reading. My kids think that books are a great alternative to boredom. It helps that I limit television time and access to video games. My kids don’t think that’s a problem, though, as long as there’s a book to grab. I’ve quit worrying about what’s age-appropriate, either. I don’t give them adult books, but I’m not going to worry if my 6-year-old wants to read something for older kids. (The Goosebumps series haven’t given anyone any nightmares yet.) And, above all, I’ve turned books into a treat. My kids know that I’ll say no to candy and video games and DVDs, but I’m always ready to buy them a book. And I’d say that even if I wasn’t an editor.