Even before my son was born, I put a lot of thought into this question: “how can I encourage him to be a reader?” I only have one child, and he is (as of press time) not yet eight months old. Since he is currently more interested in trying to eat his books than read them, I certainly can’t claim to be an expert, but since we’re in the birthday season (September and August seem to have a higher number of birthdays than other months – all those Christmas babies) I thought I’d share my thoughts with you and get feedback from you, my awesome readers. So without further ado, here are my thoughts on gifts to encourage reading in children.
Your time. Parents, this goes especially for you (and me!). Take the time to read to your children, and as they get older, let them see/know that you choose to spend some of your free time reading for pleasure. Let them read to you. Ask them to read to their younger siblings. And I know how hard it is to find the time to read to your kids and for yourself. But what we spend our time on is what shows our true priorities, so if cultivating a love of reading in your children is important to you, then the laundry can wait. Facebook can wait. Reading to your children cannot wait, and modeling to them your own love of reading is just as important.
Extended family and friends, you can have a huge impact here as well. You can read to them, too. You can also talk to them about what they’re reading. What are their favorite books? Who are their favorite characters? What do they like about them? One of my special memories from my childhood was when my grandparents recorded themselves (on a cassette tape, so this was back in the dark ages) reading stories out loud. Since we lived on the other side of the world, this was especially meaningful. With the technology that exists nowadays, this would be extremely easy to do and share.
Books. Well, duh. You knew this was coming. I’m actually not going to give any specific recommendations here, because I think the best book for a child is one that is age appropriate, and on a subject/theme that he or she is excited about. I don’t know what will make your kids’ hearts sing, but you probably do. You can also browse some of my past recommendations by going to the sidebar on the right and clicking on the Family Fridays category, or narrowing down by age group. You could also give gift cards to bookstores, or take the recipient out for ice cream and a trip to a local store to pick out their own book.
Stay tuned for another exciting installment next week – I’ll be covering experiences and tangible tie-ins.
Update: See part two here.