It’s Read Across America Day and that means it is time to GET. YOUR. READ. ON!
Maybe I seem a little too excited for this day, but I love to read, so this makes me happy! The library is my happy place and I dare not even step into a bookstore or I can easily blow hundreds of dollars on books. This is the time of year when my children come home with their Read-a-thon materials from school and I get that itch of excitement and anticipation. You see, the minutes parents read themselves also count toward the school progress, so this is basically my Super Bowl!
Read Across America Day/Week was started by the National Education Association as a way to get children excited about reading through awareness and motivation. And what better time to do it than on March 2nd, Dr. Seuss’ birthday. I love this description of how Read Across America was conceived on the NEA’s website:
In May 1997, a small reading task force at NEA came up with a big idea. “Let’s create a day to celebrate reading,” the group decided. “We hold pep rallies to get kids excited about football. We assemble to remember that Character Counts. Why don’t we do something to get kids excited about reading? We’ll call it ‘NEA’s Read Across America’ and we’ll celebrate it on Dr. Seuss’s birthday.” And so was born on March 2, 1998, the largest celebration of reading this country has ever seen.
Here are just a few ways to get your child’s love of reading started:
Read to them!
It sounds so simple, but it truly does help and make a difference. My husband and I used to read a short book to our kids each night before bed when they were smaller. Sometimes we read for 15 min… some nights we find the books that take 2 min. But regardless, they loved it and asked for it each night. About 2 years ago I bought Where the Sidewalk Ends to read to my kids. I loved that book as a child and thought they might too. We read a few poems each night and it seemed like they really were not into it. So we finished up the book and put it away. A few months later they asked for it again, so we read it again (over a period of days, not all in one sitting). They seemed to like it a little more.
Flash to this past weekend and what did they ask me? “Hey mom, can we read that poem book again?” and then they started talking about all of the poems in it that they thought were funny and that were their favorite. I couldn’t believe it. They had barely seemed interested in it, yet they had clearly heard the poems and retained most of them! (But why do I have to tell them not to jump on the couch eleventymillion times every day??? But I digress….). So, keep at it parents! Keep reading to them!
Find Books they LOVE
Any time someone tells me they do not like to read, I like to reply with ” you just haven’t found the right book.” For me, it started with the Little House on the Prairie books. My fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Turner, read those books to our class (see paragraph above). She would read snippets to us each day and we were fascinated by the way people lived before electricity, cars, and television!
Last summer a co-worker gifted me their old Diary of a Wimpy Kid collection. I brought them home and showed the kids. My son picked up the first book of the series, and that was it. His love of reading was born! He breezed through each book and at the end of each one asked for the next book in the series. He reads other books now too, but he actually re-reads Diary of a Wimpy Kid often because he thinks it is so funny. Then we watch the movie and he tells us what really happened in the book (because all book lovers know the book is ALWAYS better than the movie). I highly recommend these books, especially for boys.
Even as an adult, I tend to only read what I think is “fun.” So find out what your child is interested in, and start there. Funny books seem to be the kick-starter in our house.
Go to the library!
Some of my best reading memories from when I was a child was when my grandmother used to take me to the library. During the summer months when school was out and I was old enough to stay home alone, but not old enough to go anywhere, she would pick me up once a week and take me to the library. This was when I would find everything I could on Laura Ingalls Wilder and then find other authors I would grow to love. I loved my trips to the library.
And now libraries are even better than they were all those years ago. I highly recommend the Nashville Public Library-Main Branch in downtown Nashville. My kids beg to go there! Not only are the books sorted and easy to find by reading level, but there are plenty of non-reading things to do there as well. Once my kids find their books they take off for the climbing wall, the castle, or the computers. Then I have a chance to read my book (bonus!).
Also, if you have not already, join Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library! Our bookshelves are fully stocked thanks to the Imagination Library. It is a FREE program and once you sign up your child will receive a free book every month until their 5th birthday. The books are wonderful and age appropriate. I still cannot believe a program like this exists. It is awesome and the kids love the books and getting mail!
Books, Authors, and Lists to get you started on the journey to reading:
- The Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems (really ANY book by Mo Willems)
- The Llama Llama books by Ann Dewdney
- Sandra Boynton books – great for babies and toddlers! Belly Button Book is one of our favorites
- Here is a Nashville Mom’s Blog on the best Dr. Seuss Books
- 24 Books from My Childhood that I cannot wait to read to my kids
- Straight from the Librarian’s Mouth- Favorite Books & Reading Tips for Parents
- Fun Seussville printables for young readers.
” The MORE that you READ, the MORE things you will KNOW. The MORE that you LEARN, the more PLACES you’ll GO!”
– Dr. Seuss