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20 Ways to Influence a Child’s Love of Reading

By Karen Spencer March 29, 2023 Lifestyle

In my previous article, I wrote about the lack of reading habits – or lack of love toward reading – in the younger generations. Our grandchildren don’t seem to have a healthy exposure and/or regard toward books which, in turn, inhibits the development of their critical thinking capabilities. Naturally, the whole society will suffer in future years.

If you haven’t read my previous article, you can find it here: THE LOVE OF READING IS ON LIFE SUPPORT – CAN WE SAVE IT?

I spoke with a children’s librarian, Susan Clark. She, like many others, would love to see us inject our grandkids with our own sense of delight and wonder we receive from reading. As well as sharing some of her thoughts and reading tips, Mrs. Clark also suggested some great book choices.

Read to a Child

Regardless of whether you have grandchildren or you read to a non-related child, here are a few examples of “grandparent” books that would be fun to share.

Let the Child Choose the Book

“Research shows that providing encouragement for children of all ages to enjoy books they choose to read will help them discover the power and joy of reading,” said Scholastic’s chief academic officer Francie Alexander. “These tactics will also help to motivate kids to read more books, which will improve their skills and open a world of possibilities for them in the future.”

Let the Adult Choose a Book

Share your favorite childhood book and talk about what the book meant to you. I’d love to see grandparents reading their old favorites, often overlooked, which may or may not include titles like:

You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child.

—Dr. Seuss

Let the Child Choose a Place

Ask the child where they want to read with you. Cozy up on the sofa, lay on the bed, prop up pillows on the floor, squeeze in the rocking chair together, bask in the sun in lawn chairs, crawl under a table, in a tent or huddle in a closet with a flashlight, climb up in the tree house or go to the local park.

Let the Child Choose the Way

Solo reading (child reads the entire story), partner reading (child reads, then adult reads) or adult reading (adult only reads). Taking turns with your grandkids reading a page at a time is a fun and helpful idea to encourage reading.

It can be done with any book, but here is a series just for that:

Read Books About the Child’s Interests

Kids love to read about books that allow them to learn more about what they are already excited about:

Read Books Where Grandparents Can Share Their Own Interests

Bring a Book Back as a Souvenir from Your Travels

What a great tradition for your grandchild to look forward to each time you take a trip.

You’ll never be bored when you try something new. There’s really no limit to what you can do. 

—Dr. Seuss

Make It a Discovery Day

Celebrate with a trip to the library or bookstore together and discover books that are relevant, fun and magical for your grandchild.

Help your grandchild find a book that helps them understand more about where they live and where they come from. Find a book that helps the little reader learn more about the community they live in:

Start a Book Club with a Child 

Get each of you a copy of a book to read. Discuss what you learned from it. You can use Face Time, or Skype if need be.

My granddaughter (on the East Coast) and I (on the West Coast) are doing just that. She chose the book The Wicked Fate by Kalynn Bayron.

How About a Career Day?

Reading is deeply formative experience that shows your child the kind of person he or she wants to be. What does he/she want to be when he/she grows up? Reading helps them to discover more about their opportunities.

The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.

—Dr. Seuss

Take a Field Trip

You and your child could check out Alex Rodriguez’s book Out of the Ballpark and then spend the afternoon together at a local baseball game.

Or take a trip to the ballet after reading Degas and the Little Dancer from Edgar Degas series, Anholt’s Artists Books.

This could also be a great opportunity for the child to bring a friend along… then you are inspiring more kids!

Give the Gift of a Book

What better present for Christmas, birthdays or ‘just cuz’ days.

A monthly subscription that comes in the mail can be a real treat for a child. Why not purchase a gift that ‘keeps on giving’?

Be a Role Model for Your Child

Let the children see you reading often and hear you talking about the books you read.

Listen to Audio Books While Traveling

Here are some ideas for audio books that the entire family might enjoy:

Read a Book Together, Then Watch the Movie

Two of my granddaughters, their mother and I just read Wonder by R.J. Palacio. We then followed it up with a movie night (and yes… popcorn included!)

Start Your Own Neighborhood Reading Group

Team up with other Grannies that support your mission. Find a good meeting spot, talk to some parents and send out some flyers with date and time.

Spread Books Throughout Your Home

Fill your house with books, in all the crannies and all the nooks.

—Dr. Seuss

When grandkids come to visit let them find books by their bed side, car, bathroom, back porch. Start pursuing the garage sales, library sales and discounted book shops in your area.

Read All Kinds of Books

Pick a variety of books: fiction, non-fiction, poetry, plays, comic books, puzzle books and fun fact books.

Create Your Own Little Free Library Box

Build a creative library box for the children in your neighborhood that will entice them and encourage them to share books with one another.

Let’s work together to breathe life back into this dying pleasure and past-time.

Although if can feel like a mountain in front of us, what better gift to leave the children, and their children, and their children a legacy of the love of reading.

You’re off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, So… get on your way!

—Dr. Seuss

Here’s a great website for finding other age-appropriate books for kids:

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Are you actively involved in helping a child to read? Would you share some creative ideas to add to our list for those of us that want to re-ignite a love of reading in our children’s lives?

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The Author

Karen is a retired college professor, a Certified Health Coach, a Brain Health Coach, a writer, a speaker and a teacher. Her mission is to educate, inspire and influence women 55 and older to step up, dream big and become healthier, happier, and more fulfilled.

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