How To Instill A Love Of Reading
At a very young age I loved reading and books and the library. It was all magical. I remember sitting cross-legged on my bed in the summer before 5th grade and hysterically crying as I read the end of Where The Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls, a heart-wrenching story about a boy and his two dogs. I was transported out of my bedroom and into the woods with young Billy and his two coon hounds, Big Dan and Little Ann.
It changed in middle school when there was a summer reading program. I was thrilled to read books all summer but when I got back to school, eager to talk about the books I read, I learned it was really a competition to see who could read the most books. And the kids who “won” read all the shortest books. No one cared about how the books made us feel. While I wanted to savor my time in the woods, other kids just wanted a blue ribbon.
By the time I reached high school we read classics like The Old Man And The Sea and Catcher In The Rye. They were over my head. I couldn’t relate to the characters. There was too much analysis and not enough enjoyment. Reading was no longer magical. It was work.
As an adult I rekindled my love for reading because of a newfound desire to learn and grow. Reading has inspired my creativity and fueled my motivation. It’s a simple joy to read something that moves you. And that’s what I want for my son George.
Since he was a few months old, my husband and I have read to George every day before naptime and bedtime until he’s ready for sleep. It might be one book or it might be seven. I’ve created a document of children's books and am always on the hunt for stories with substance. When it’s not naptime I sometimes read George whatever I’m currently reading which may not be appropriate for a 10-month-old but he totally enjoys it. I lay him on my lap and he stares at the ceiling while big words and occasional profanities fly out of my mouth.
Once George is old enough to read on his own, Sam and I will have a rule about reading. Even though George will have a bedtime every night, he can always stay up as late as he wants if he wants to read a book. Reading will always be encouraged.
My husband and I are strongly leaning towards an alternative education. We’re not sure what that looks like yet except to say George won’t be attending traditional school and won’t have required reading. He’ll read whatever he’s excited to read. Because a love of reading translates to a love of learning.
There was a 15-year gap in my life where I forgot how much fun reading was. I’m determined to close that gap for my son.