I have been a bookworm since childhood, and when I started my own family, I really wanted my kids to develop the same love of reading as I did. But I knew there’s no guarantee it would happen (kids really do have their own minds!), and I wasn’t always sure how to achieve this goal. One unexpected source of inspiration came from my librarianship studies, which I undertook when my children were still quite young. What I was learning about literacy, and library trends, really opened my mind about why and how we read. So here are some of the most important things that Librarian School taught me about how to encourage and support children to become happy, confident readers:
- There are different types of literacies.
Picture books, chapter books, graphic novels, non-fiction… they all challenge our comprehension in different ways. Literacy is not just about being able to read big words and long books. Don’t despair if your child prefers pictures to words – they are still gaining useful interpretation skills. Try reading a wordless picture book (such as Shaun Tan’s The Arrival), and you’ll see what I mean!
- Every person their book.
In the library world, this is about offering a variety of materials to suit the diverse needs of library users. I also like to think of it as an encouragement to the parents of reluctant readers – that one day, the Right Book will come along, grab their child’s interest and kickstart that lifelong love of reading.
- Make reading fun.
It’s all about fostering a lifelong love of reading – which supports all types of learning, helps to develop intellectual curiosity, as well as entertain and offer comfort throughout life. It doesn’t have to be about reading stories from a page – chat about your favourite characters, make up alternative endings for stories, do quizzes and puzzles, or make yummy treats by following a recipe.
- Use your child’s interests as the starting point.
This ties in with the previous points – get your child’s attention by offering materials that match their interests. This could be the novels of their favourite movies, comic books, car magazines, newspapers or even recipe books. Just keep them reading! And if they won’t take on your book suggestions, or if they just want to read the same thing over and over – have a variety of reading materials on hand, and one day they might just discover it all by themselves.
- Embrace social media.
Besides talking to your friendly librarians and booksellers, you can find many reading-related resources on social media. Facebook, Goodreads, blogs and websites (including Booko’s own blog and Facebook feed!) offer everything from book suggestions and literacy activities, to moral support from like-minded parents, to opportunities to interact with your favourite authors.
Here’s a handy little booklist to help you foster the love of reading in your home.
Raising Readers: How to Nurture a Child’s Love of Books by Megan Daley
Some kids refuse to read, others won’t stop, not even at the dinner table! Either way, many parents question the best way to support their child’s literacy journey. When can you start reading to your child? How do you find that special book to inspire a reluctant reader? How can you tell if a book is age appropriate? What can you do to keep your tween reading into their adolescent years? Award-winning teacher librarian Megan Daley has the answers to all these questions and more. She unpacks her fifteen years of experience into this personable and accessible guide, enhanced with up-to-date research and first-hand accounts from well-known Australian children’s authors. It also contains practical tips, such as suggested reading lists and instructions on how to run book-themed activities. Raising Readers is a must have guide for parents and educators to help the children in their lives fall in love with books.
The Read-Aloud Family by Sarah Mackenzie
Connecting deeply with our kids can be difficult in our busy, technology-driven lives. Reading aloud offers us a chance to be fully present with our children. It also increases our kids’ academic success, inspires compassion, and fortifies them with the inner strength they need to face life’s challenges. As Sarah Mackenzie has found with her own six children, reading aloud long after kids are able to read to themselves can deepen relationships in a powerful way. Founder of the immensely popular Read-Aloud Revival podcast, Sarah knows first-hand how reading can change a child’s life. In The Read-Aloud Family, she offers the inspiration and age-appropriate book lists you need to start a read-aloud movement in your own home. From a toddler’s wonder to a teenager’s resistance, Sarah details practical strategies to make reading aloud a meaningful family ritual. Reading aloud not only has the power to change a family, it has the power to change the world.
Bookworm: a Memoir of Childhood Reading by Lucy Mangan
The Cat in the Hat? Barbar? The Very Hungry Caterpillar? Whoever it was for you, it’s very hard to forget the intensity of your first encounter with a book. As a bespectacled child, Lucy Mangan devoured stories: from early picture books to Swallows and Amazons, Enid Blyton to Little Women, trashy teen romances to those first ‘grown-up’ novels. In Bookworm, she revisits this early enthusiasm; celebrating the enduring classics, and disinterring some forgotten treasures. A love letter to the joys of childhood reading, full of enthusiasm and wit, Bookworm tells the stories of our best-loved books, their extraordinary creators, and the thousand subtle ways they shape our lives. It also comes packed with brilliant recommendations to inspire the next generation of bookworms and set them on their way. This impassioned book will bring the unforgettable characters of our collective childhoods back to life – prompting endless re-readings, rediscoveries, and, inevitably, fierce debate. It will also act as an invaluable guide to anyone looking to build a children’s library and wondering where to start, or where to go next.
Just Jaime by Terri Libenson
Another spot-on story of middle school drama and friendship from Terri Libenson, national bestselling author of Invisible Emmie and Positively Izzy.
Friends. Frenemies. Middle school…
The last day of seventh grade has Jaime and Maya wondering who their real friends are. Jaime knows something is off with her friend group. They’ve started to exclude her and make fun of the way she dresses and the things she likes. At least she can count on her BFF, Maya, to have her back . . . right? Maya feels more and more annoyed with Jaime, who seems babyish compared to the other girls in their popular group. It’s like she has nothing in common with Jai anymore. Are their days as BFFs numbered . . . ?
The Arrival by Shaun Tan
Haunting, original and told entirely through exquisitely imagined black, white and sepia pictures, The Arrival is the story of one man’s encounter with life in a strange new world. It’s a timeless, universal story that will resonate with anyone, anywhere who has struggled to start again in a place that is different to the one they have always known. Much loved around the world. The Arrival has also won numerous awards including the CBCA Book of the Year and ‘Best Album’ at the Augouleme Festival in France.
Science You Can Eat: Putting What We Eat Under the Microscope by Stefan Gates
Discover the seriously impressive science that goes on every time you cook or eat. This children’s book explores the science of food by asking questions you’re hungry to know the answers to, and putting them to the test through fun experiments. Science You Can Eat will transform your kitchen into a lab through fun food experiments. Cooking is chemistry, and the fun science experiments – such as tricking your taste buds, making slime taste delicious, and investigating some of the strangest flavours around will prove it. This exciting kid’s book tackles all the tasty science questions you have about food, plus plenty more that you hadn’t thought of! Once you understand science, you understand food, so find out why popcorn go “pop” as you test it out for yourself, explore how taste is affected by smell, then discover whether eating insects is the future of food. Examining interesting ingredients and exciting eating, as well as peeking into the future of food, Science You Can Eat helps you understand what’s happening with our food and why. Each page is guaranteed to leave you hungry for more.