How to Develop a Love of Books and Confident Readers?

Our boys (7 and 3) love, love, love books and love to read books and are reading at years above their age level.
Why do they love reading? How did we do it?
I have my theories as to why they enjoy reading so much, perhaps some of the things we have done over the years have assisted, or perhaps we were just blessed with two naturally good readers. 

J reads a minimum of 10 books a day (picture and chapter books) of his own accord. H copies his brother, but often asks myself or J to read to him. He is happy to read a few beginner books like this one above, but mostly when I am reading, he happily reads the words he knows on each page.

I have been asked the question before "How do you get them to read?"  Well,
these are some of the things we have done...

1. Start early! Baby toys are great but fabric books and waterproof books are better (and cheaper in most cases). This is where you and books make the first impression, books should be everywhere and seen as a toy. Fun, and happy play times can be associated (the Psychology Degree has come in handy now and again) with books and storytelling by family and friends.

2. Have a huge variety of interesting books. You can never have too many books, they will get used again and again especially if you have younger children coming up the ranks. First you read them, then the first child reads them, then he reads them to his brother, then his brother reads them, etc etc. 
Don't waste too much time with some of those boring readers in the early years. If the book is boring for you to read, it probably is going to be for the child. You don't teach children to love reading by giving them boring stories to read.
Tip- always say "books please", if someone wants to buy a present for the children. Buy from garage sales, liquidators, 2nd hand shops and Lifeline Book fairs, or get to the Library for FREE books.
I visit the library at least once a week, collecting 30-40 books at a time, they are free and we go through them many times over. Variety is the spice of life, and it does make a difference if there are more than enough books lying around the house to choose from.
 Books that can teach a new language.
Books that can help teach about life situations.

3. One parent at least should value books, love books and read books. The books also need to come alive and by that I mean make an effort when reading the story, using funny voices and getting into character. It definitely makes a huge difference!

4.I try many different techniques when teaching children to read, variety once again is important in keeping children interested. I sometimes point at the words as I read them, so that the boys get used to which way the words go. Letter searches are a great way to get the mind trained to work from left to right, top to bottom when reading. I explain how to methodically search for a letter, starting at the top and working your way across and down, I am sure this helped H (nearly 4) get the idea that following words across the page is how to read.
I also use computer software such as Letterland and websites such as ABC Reading Eggs. I started with these at age 3 and both the boys found them fun and wanted to use them everyday. I used alphabet books like "Little a had a box...", which focus on one letter per book and I repeated a letter each night for one week at a time to reinforce letters. Looking for words we recognise on signs whilst driving, letters on number plates and alphabet music in the car are other techniques I use.Whenever I can make an opportunity a teaching moment I certainly try ("there is a bus, what does bus start with?"). Spelling games can be fun too (believe it or not) when TV is a reward for getting 10 words right.

5. I avoid forcing books, I don't think it should be a "must do" activity, it should be a "want to" choice for children to pick up a book and discover what lies within the pages. This has been my philosophy, it seems to have worked for me, now I am finding I have to repeatedly ask the boys to put their books down to do something else (like eat or sleep!). A good problem to have!

My next challenge is spelling... just because you have a confident reader, doesn't mean they will excel at spelling.


  1. Great post! I'm a total bookworm and have every intention of encouraging my kids to be too. We have a basket full of books in every room in the house (well, not the bathrooms but you get the idea).

  2. Thanks for this great post, don't be surprised if I link up to it soon :)


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