The Best Trick To Play On Your Children — Raise Readers!

Image source: Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley
Image source: Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley

My husband and I have this little trick we play on our children. And it helps us to raise readers.

Every night, we try to get our three children in bed as close to 7:00 pm as possible. Our rule is that they need to stay in their rooms quietly and lights must be off. Oh, unless they feel like using this

Are you scratching your head over there?

Yes, it’s a book light. But in our house, it’s not just any book light. You see, I have had this book light on my nightstand since before my children were born. I use it every single night. And my husband has one, too.

One by one, as my children began to show interest in books, we gave them each his or her very own book light. It’s a rite of passage in our home to receive a book light in your favorite color.

So, where’s the trick, you wonder?

Well, you see… they go to bed around seven, but they don’t have to go to sleep. They can use their book lights to read. They can stay up as late as they want, reading. We have tricked them into practicing those vital reading skills.

My children now pride themselves in staying up late, while my husband and I smile each evening knowing that we are raising readers.

And, really, that’s what we all want to do, don’t we? We want to raise children who are not only proficient in reading, but who also enjoy the written word. We know that reading is not only a form of entertainment but a vital life skill. We want our children to want to read.

Image source: Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley
Image source: Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley

Do you want to know the best way to raise a reader? Do you want to know the single most important thing for you to do?

Here’s a hint: it’s not a book light, folks. It’s way easier than that!

It doesn’t cost a dime.

It is fun.

It builds relationships and creates lasting family memories.

Give up? All you need to do is to grab a book, newspaper, or magazine and read it aloud. That’s it. 

All you need to do is to read. Read aloud to your children. Read early, read often, read even when they can read independently. Reading aloud is the single best thing you can do to build a love of reading in your children. If you don’t believe me, read this book. I truly believe that if every parent and educator read this book, our educational system would change for the better.

Image source: Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley
Image source: Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley

By doing this, you’ll be performing a trick of your own. You’ll trick them into seeing work as play. Reading is fun, once you are proficient.

Here’s the thing: Learning to read is not easy. It’s hard work to break that code and decipher what all those letters mean! It takes a long time to build those reading skills. Like any skill, one must practice in order to become proficient. And, let’s be honest here: practice can be… boring.

It is boring unless you really want to read. Children who are driven by the desire to read are more apt to practice those skills. By reading aloud to your child, you are creating positive memories around books and reading. Without even knowing it, you are making reading an enjoyable, desirable activity. If it’s fun, they’re going to want to do it!

read aloud
Image source: Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley

There are heaps and heaps of studies that show the benefits of reading aloud. Children who are read to enter school better prepared. Reading aloud:

  • Builds vocabulary
  • Works on listening skills
  • Improves comprehension
  • Increases general knowledge base

It doesn’t need to be overwhelming, it just needs to be fun. Maybe you, for whatever reason, hate reading aloud. Why not just vow to read aloud for ten minutes a day? You can do anything for ten minutes, right? It may not seem like much, but that is 3,650 minutes a year!

Image source: Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley
Image source: Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley

Do you need some motivation to get started? Here are some tips:

  1. Read the first chapter of this book and see if you aren’t hooked. It will change the way you think about education and parenting, I promise.
  2. Surf the ‘net to find some excellent read aloud books like these and these.
  3. Visit your library. It costs nothing and it’s right in your neighborhood!
  4. If you need a little push, join a virtual family book club.
  5. And, if you’re feeling super-motivated, start your very own family book club!
  6. If it all feels too overwhelming, grab an audiobook and snuggle up together!

It’s a brand new year, folks. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t been reading aloud to your kids to this point. It doesn’t matter if your child is now reading independently. It is never too early, or too late, to read to a child. You can start a read aloud routine today.

Tell me: What is your current read aloud? Share here! This is ours:

current read aloud
Image source: Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley

“You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child.”
~ Dr. Seuss

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Cait is a school psychologist, mom to three amazing children, and an unexpected homeschooler. She loves nature, good books, board games, strong coffee, and dancing in her kitchen. You can read about all of these things and more at My Little Poppies. Cait co-hosts The Homeschool Sisters Podcast. She is a contributing writer for Simple Homeschool and her work has also appeared on The Huffington Post, The Mighty, and Scary Mommy. You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram and G+.