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Raising Readers One Book at a Time


A recent Baby Center email for my seven year old (yes, I still open them to read about her development!) had the headline, “How to Encourage Reading.” I laughed and read along, knowing the advice doesn’t apply to me just now.

Miss Seven is an avid reader, almost to the detriment of anything else. She wants to stay up late reading and has been known to use her alarm clock or nightlight (both of which are too dim for reading!) to stay up past bedtime to get in a few more pages. On school nights, this leads to disastrous mornings, but she persists in her love of the written word. She reads on the potty, while she’s eating, in the car and during church. She still prefers screen time on her Kindle or the TV, but since those are more rationed, she’ll most often be toting a book or two. She will also read to her three-year-old sister, and those are some of the sweetest moments of my life so far–gazing on my angelic children enjoying a book together.

Her favorites right now are Ivy & Bean, Junie B. Jones and Fancy Nancy. We’ve also loved the Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls and enjoy other biographies of strong women. She’s also read Beverly Cleary’s Ramona series–and if you haven’t listened to the audiobooks performed by Stockard Channing, stop reading and go request them via the library Overdrive app right now. Trust me, they are so amazing. 

What’s the secret for raising a reader? (Prepare yourself for a #NotSoHumbleBrag!) I think it’s the advice we hear all the time–having books on hand throughout childhood and reading out loud from infancy. My husband read to Miss Seven when she was still a fetus, mainly the nursery rhyme book provided by the East Baton Rouge Parish Library. And her little sister got access to even more in utero reading because we never stopped reading out loud! We also model reading ourselves, and I often have a book or magazine in hand. When I’m reading on my Kindle Fire, I make sure the girls know it’s a book rather than just scrolling Facebook (which I also do plenty of!).

We geek the library. EBRPL started its One Thousand Books Before Kindergarten program (PDF) when my older daughter was still in preschool, so we participated. It took us a few months to read and track 1,000 books in the logs. By extrapolating, my husband (a mathematician!) and I discovered we likely read more than 10,000 books before she started kindergarten! We kept up the reading trend for daughter number two, and she loves books as much as her big sister.

We still read to both girls daily, and a favorite part of my day is reading a chapter book aloud on the bottom bunk, although these Magic Bunny books she’s picked up from the school book fair are among the weirder things I’ve ever read!

I’m always looking for new books and series to introduce to our family. Do you have any favorite reads that your kids really love?

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25 Jun 2019


By Mari Walker

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