How To Raise a Family of Readers

Reading in our household is an integral part of our family culture: our children are read to from birth through to their teenage years, reading independently is nurtured, and reading as a pastime is highly valued. Our children are surrounded by books as our home literally contains thousands of books: books purchased, gifted and found at book sales. Both my husband and I are readers as are our children; conversations, activities and movie watching are entwined around our love of reading.  Simply, reading is something we do as a family.

Reflecting upon how we have grown a reading culture, I decided to ask our adult children and teens who have been nurtured in this environment to contribute their thoughts as to how we’ve managed to raise readers; the younger children also wanted to contribute. The children’s insights are fascinating, and it was enlightening to hear reoccurring themes.

Essentially, our children felt the key components of raising readers in our family have been: our family read-alouds, the emphasis placed on the value of reading and the time allowed for this, our insistence on quality literature, the teaching and nurturing of burgeoning readers, sibling interest and passion shared, a family culture created, the sheer amount of books they are surrounded with, and my willingness to search for books of interest for each individual child and my quest to provide them with these books, whether via our own shelves, the library or purchasing. Admittedly, scouring book lists and searching for the ‘morsel to tantalise the taste buds’ of some of our children is an endeavour that has consumed many hours over the years.  I’ll allow the children to speak for themselves.

 

The Children’s Thoughts

Question: “Why do you think you are a reader? What did we do to support reading in our family?”

Anna Maria – 25

“You read read-alouds to us as children. We enjoyed a wide range of quality literature; you made sure the books we read were quality books. Lots of emphasis was placed on reading. You bought lots of books; we went to book sales and the library.  You modelled reading and you talked about books.”

Carpenter – 23

“We had a ready supply of books and options. You found books in the genre I liked and supported me in my love of series. Would search to find books I was interested in and were willing to buy the books and series if we couldn’t find them at the library. You would go through our shelves at home and find books I might be interested in and give me huge piles to select from.

Read read-alouds to us, taught me to read, and encouraged me to read. When I was younger and learning to read, the ‘reading caterpillars’ (a family competition) motivated me to learn. I was also motivated by them later.”

Einstein – 21

“From a young age reading was encouraged. When learning to read we received lots of praise; when we had progressed and began reading short books and later chapter books we received lots more praise. Learning to read was a big deal. As we continued strengthening our skills it was all praiseworthy.

We were encouraged to read; a love and care of reading was fostered. I love reading.”

Michelangelo – 19

“You taught me to read, provided books at my level of reading ability. We had a good selection of books and you found books and series of interest I would enjoy. My older brothers and sisters shared their enthusiasm for and encouraged me to read particular books. Our rule of having to read the book before watching the movie created interest.”

Princess – 17

“I grew up surrounded by books. You are constantly suggesting books for me to read. I’ve always loved books and I can’t imagine not having them in my life.”

Jelly Bean – 14

“You found books I was able to read that were interesting and made sure there were library books all around that I would like so I would want to learn to read. It helped having a supportive Mum who didn’t get angry, who was patient when I was learning to read.”

Jack Jack – 12

“I read interesting books because I have to know what happens next! We have 8500 books, and we have to read the book before we can watch the movie.”

Jem – 10

“You taught me to read. Reading is great fun, I enjoy reading.”

Bass – 7

“I like reading. You are a good teacher.”

 

A reading environment doesn’t automatically translate to early reading. In fact, not many of our children learnt to read at a young age; indeed, most began reading at an average, or later than average age, with a couple not reading independently and for pleasure until the age of eleven. Our goal however is to create a love of books and reading within each of our children and that we have succeeded at.

Our desire and commitment is to expose our children to primarily quality literature; whilst we are by no means purists, the benefits of exposing our children to rich literature and ideas which are manifold are now playing dividends.

We are in the enviable position that whilst ‘reaping the fruits of our labour’ with our older children, we are still able to experience the wonder of walking with our five-year-old as she begins to discover the magic of the written word for herself, as well as continuing to enjoy picture books and transitioning to listening to chapter books with her older siblings.

I encourage you to begin creating a reading culture within your family today. Begin with one chapter at a time; snuggle, share, cry and laugh together. The rewards are rich indeed.

Erin

Hi, I'm Erin, I've been sharing snippets of our Living & Learning since 2006! You'll find here large family logistics, home education, owner building, rural life, book reviews and hundreds of pages with book recommendations we've personally used.

9 thoughts on “How To Raise a Family of Readers

  • March 11, 2019 at 1:05 pm
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    Reading this, I fully agree with every thing my siblings said and it reminded me of my childhood and how I came to love books.
    Very well written. Good job Mum;)

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    • March 11, 2019 at 10:11 pm
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      Why thank you darling. when I see you all loving books I feel, ‘my job is done’ 😉 xxx

      Reply
  • March 17, 2019 at 7:38 pm
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    I love what your children have to say. Reading to our children was one of the true pleasures of child-rearing – and we still talk about books though they are both (we only have two) their 30s.

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    • April 5, 2019 at 6:48 am
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      I love that, reading a true pleasure of child rearing, I agree! Isn’t it a wonderful family culture to be sharing and discussing books into their adulthood 🙂

      Reply
  • March 17, 2019 at 9:04 pm
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    Love fed the comment by all the kiddos & I love honk you’ve done a bee-u-tiful job on your blog. It looks superb!

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    • March 17, 2019 at 9:08 pm
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      Oh dear! What a lot of gobbledygook . Sorry about that, Erin. Meant to say that I loved all those comments & your blog looks great☹️ I didn’t get much sleep last night…

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      • April 5, 2019 at 6:50 am
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        HI Carol,
        Glad you enjoyed the children’s comments, I admit I teared up over what they had to say as I scribed.
        Pleased you like the fresher look, a work in progress but getting there

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  • March 24, 2019 at 8:11 am
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    Hi Erin,

    Great article. Our eight kids became readers much like yours. They couldn’t really escape it. Reading is considered entertainment in our family. What do you do when everyone is sitting around reading? You grab a book! We are very selective concerning content and quality of writing. Our kids, down to the youngest, 14, have developed a great sense of discernment. They know good from bad writing.

    I love your site and your beautiful family! I followed you from Pinterest. You are the first person who actually shared pins of books from my boards. Everyone else just shares the few crafts. I don’t have many followers yet so I did a little dance of joy. It is good to meet a family from the other side of the world online. We are in the rainy American Pacific Northwest. Lots of green and huge trees.

    I am looking forward to reading your book reviews. I already saw that you have quite a few books I don’t know. Australia must have a different selection available than we have over here. How thrilling.

    God bless you and your family

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    • April 5, 2019 at 6:55 am
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      Hello Christine 🙂
      They can’t help but be influenced if everyone else is doing it. Discerning content and quality consumes vast amounts of my time as I’m sure it does yours too.
      So pleased to bring a smile to your day, you’ve shown me several books I didn’t know and I’m hoping you write some reviews, just sayin’ 😉 Sadly we’re in a drought here so not much green.
      Books in Australia tend to be either published here or England, often when my dear online American friends recommend books it can be hard for me to get. I generally save those pennies for books of Faith, got to prioritise the dollar. Do hope you enjoy my other reviews.

      Reply

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