Reading to your kids at home is beneficial in so many ways. It creates a bond between the parent and child, presents opportunities for fun book-related activities, and sets your child up for reading success in the future. I have very clear memories of being read to every night as a kid. My favorite books were Good Night, Lewis and Little Duck’s Moving Day. I’m pretty sure my mother read those two books to me approximately 72,916 times. (Thanks, Mom :)) Reading is an essential skill in everyday life. It’s also an enjoyable activity for all ages. Creating a reading-friendly home will give your child a solid reading foundation AND introduce them to what might become one of their favorite pastimes. This “Beginner’s Guide” will help you accomplish both of those goals!
What is a Reading-Friendly Home?
A reading-friendly home actively encourages reading & reading-related activities. Having LOTS of children’s books in your home is a great start. It’s important for kids to have their own selection of books that they can read whenever they’d like. There are additional things you can add to your home and practices that can be put in to place to boost the amount of reading your kids are doing and the enjoyment they get from it.
Some things you might see in a reader-friendly home:
- Easily accessible children’s books
- Adult’s books in view
- Parents reading for their own enjoyment where kids can see
- Parents reading to/with their children
- Library Cards/Bag/Book Wish List
- Cozy reading spots
- Parents and kids talking about what they’re reading
- Book-inspired activities
How To Get Started with Creating a Reading-Friendly Home
It’s easy to begin making your home a place where reading is at the forefront! I’ve listed some things below that will help you get started.
Children’s Books: The more, the better! You can buy them new online if you’re looking for a specific title. One of my favorite places to get books cheap is at the thrift store. I’ve found them for $0.25 – $1.00 a piece, and many of them are in pretty good condition. You can also find affordable books through the Parent Store at Scholastic.com. Another fun way to add children’s books to your home library is by signing up for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. Your child will receive one book per month (for free!) from birth until age 5.
Parent’s Books: It’s important for your children to see you reading. A shelf filled with your favorite books or a basket of magazines in the living room will ensure that your kids catch you reading!
Front Facing or Traditional Style bookshelf for Kids’ Rooms: I like the bookshelves that let you display books with their covers facing forward for young children. It’s easy for them to recognize their favorite books and look through new books with enticing cover art! The traditional bookshelves (books are stored with the spine facing out) are great for older kids or if you have a lot of books to store for your preschooler.
Comfy Chair / Blanket / Pillows: You can find TONS of inspiration on Pinterest for making a cozy little reading nook. It can be as simple or as extravagant as you and your kids want it to be. The key is to make it super cozy and a place your children want to hang out and read!
Library Items: Checking books out at the library allows you to get several books into your home for free. Making a weekly trip to the library is one of my favorite activities to do with my kids. We get to look at lots of books and sometimes end up ordering a copy of our favorites to have at home! You’ll need a library card, of course, but a special book bag and book wish list can be helpful!
Art Supplies: Build up your collection of art supplies so you can partake in all sorts of book-inspired crafts and activities with your kids.
Tips for Success with Making a Reading-Friendly Home
#1: Start Small: You don’t need to run out and get everything listed above right this second. Starting small (with a few books in your child’s room and a comfy blanket, for example) is the first step. Add in the other pieces as you can. Steadily work toward the big picture, and you’ll get there!
#2: Get your kids involved: Usually, you’ll get more buy-in from your children when they’re part of the process. You can let them help pick out books, choose between a few pillows for the reading nook, and assist with making a list of art supplies.
#3: Make it a habit: Read. Every. Day. This is imperative when it comes to preparing your child to become a lifelong reader. Read with your kids as often as you can and do it consistently. If you don’t read with your child everyday right now, can you commit to reading a story before bed each night? If that’s already in you routine, try adding in another storytime earlier in the day. Do this every day, and it will just become habit!
#4: Follow Book-friendly Instagram accounts: I love to follow people on Instagram that suggest children’s books. I’ve found some great stories that have become our best-loved books by using this tool. Some of my favorite accounts to follow are @growingbookbybook, @thechildrenslibrary, @librarymombooks, @kidlitismagic, and @littlebooksbigworld.
#5: Choose one book-related activity a week: Interact with the books you and your kids read by picking a related craft or activity. Aim for one project a week. You don’t have to be Super Mom and do a craft every day. That probably isn’t even feasible for working parents. If you’re a stay-at-home parent, you might have time to do more, and that’s great! Or you might not, and that’s OK, too!
Common Questions/FAQ About Creating a Reading-Friendly Home
- Why is it important to read with your child at home?
- Reading with your child at home exposes them to lots of books. It shows them you value reading and that it’s important. Reading a variety of books will increase your child’s vocabulary and background knowledge, spark their imagination, and improve their listening skills. Kids become better readers by reading. When you read with your child at home, you are helping them master early literacy skills that create the foundation for independent reading in elementary school.
- How many books should a child have at home?
- A good target is at least 80 books in your child’s home library. Research shows that having a minimum of 80 books by adolescence is correlated with average literacy levels. (J. Sikora et al., Social Science Research, 2019)
- How do you organize children’s books?
- I like to use a front-facing bookshelf for my kids’ books. It makes it easy for preschoolers to find their favorite books or notice new ones. You could also have a basket on the floor or floating shelves on the wall. If you have stacks and stacks of children’s books (yay!), you might want to invest in some “book boxes” or “magazine holders” that can group books on the same topic or by the same author. You can slide the book bins into a traditional style bookshelf with the book spines out. Kids can then take the whole bucket for a certain topic off the shelf and choose a book to look at that way.
- How do I get my child to love reading?
- Suggest books on topics they’re interested in
- After discovering a favorite book, help them find more books by the same author
- Read to them often–use different character voices
- Listen to / watch stories online
- Start a family book club (click here to learn more from Growing Book By Book)
- Take regular trips to the library and participate in storytime
- What books should preschoolers read?
- Most people think of picture books when talking about reading with young children, but how do you choose the “right” ones? All books have value in their own way. (Don’t forget kids magazines! These are fun to get in the mail and there are several subscriptions to choose from for preschoolers.) When choosing books to read with your kids, you can think about some of the following points:
- What are some of your child’s interests?
- Introduce new topics and genres (fiction, informational, poetry, wordless books, fairy tales, etc.)
- Choose stories with diverse characters
- Look for rich vocabulary
- Select books that expose your kids to new experiences, places, and topics
The Last Thing You Need to Know
Creating a reading-friendly home for your kids requires a few steps, but you don’t have to complete them all at once! Choose one aspect to implement at a time, then move onto the next, and it will come together. Happy Reading!
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