How Do I Get My Child Interested in Books?

One of the questions I get asked most is how I get my little ones so interested in books. Here are a few tips.

1: Start reading! Sounds simple right? But in all honesty, a lot of people feel a bit awkward reading to a tiny baby! I started reading consistently to my oldest when she was only a few weeks old, and the others from birth.

2: Get new library books weekly. We have a “Library day”. Every Wednesday we go to the library and switch out our books from the previous week with new ones. This keeps their interest and excitement with reading new books. We keep our library books downstairs in a specific spot so they are always available to them and they know where they can find the “new books”.

Tip: Keep an amazon list and add the books we absolutely loved from the library to purchase later for birthdays and Christmas. 

3: Purchase Books. Children also need repetition! We always make sure to include some books in birthdays and other holidays. We have the books that we absolutely love and have purchased in both of the girls rooms upstairs. They love rereading our favorite books over and over again. This helps them develop reading and language skills. Just after my daughter turned 3, she memorized “Heckedy Peg” by Audrey Wood, word for word, which is a long book! She loved feeling like she could read all on her own. 

4: Keep the books low! Keep the books low so your child has access to them whenever they want. The board books are always available, and our paper books are low in my daughters closet. We are able shut the closet so the younger ones can’t rip them up, but the 3 year old still has access to them, and can grab them when she wants. 

5: Extend learning. Some of those beginning books can be a little rough mcgruff for parents to figure out how to extend learning. You know the ones, the picture books that have one word such as Red, Yellow, Blue, Orange on each page. However, these books are extremely developmental for infants and toddlers. Parents can extend learning by saying this such as, “There is a RED hat, a RED car and a RED shoe.” for infants. And for Toddlers say something such as, “Point to something BLUE” or “Where is the YELLOW flower?”

6: Ask Questions and Repeat Answers. It’s interesting because a lot of people expect children to be silent during an entire book, however if they aren’t interrupting you about the book as you are reading it, they are most likely not listening or confused at what you’re saying. Books are a great way to have conversations about new vocabulary words. If you think your child doesn’t know a word ask them. For example, “Do you know what PATIENCE means?” then have a conversation about that word. You can also ask questions as you read such as, “She was angry and threw a toy. Do you think that was a good choice or a bad choice? Why? What could have been better?” The conversations we have as we are reading with our children will be some of the most enlightening and tender conversations we will have with our children.

With all ages, and the younger ages in especially, it’s important that we repeat their answers so that they know they were heard and feel valued in giving responses. If my 2 year old points to a duck and says, “a duck says, ‘Quack, Quack!’” I would then repeat, “Yes, a duck says, Quack, Quack!” If my 3 year old says, “They were being silly!” I would say, “They were being silly!” When your child feels validated, they become more interested and invested in the book.

7: Incorporate Reading into your routine. This is a simple way to make sure that reading books with your child is a daily occurrence. We incorporate reading into our nap time and bed time routines, that way if no additional reading happens throughout the day, we are still reading at least a couple of books every single day.

8: Be careful with what you say! This one, I am constantly getting on my husband about haha, but I sometimes catch myself saying similar things as well! Be careful not to say things like, “This book is so dumb” about one of your child’s favorite books. They start to pick up on your language and attitude towards books and repeat what you say as well. My daughter LOVED a book about a ballerina, and my husband did not like that book at all. After a couple of times of him protesting to read her favorite book, followed by words such as, “I don’t like that book” or “That one is boring”, she started saying those same words. It broke my heart, and my husband began to recognize the power of his words.

9: Be an Example. If you want your children to be interested in books, you need to show interest in them as well. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to start reading novels, if you have never really enjoyed reading in your spare time, but it does mean that when your child wants to read, you try to stop what you’re doing and read with them. So many beautiful and educational experiences come from reading with your children.

10: Include activities around books. This might mean you read, “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” by Harper Collins and then make cookies with your child. Or you could read “Mouse Paint” by Ellen Stoll Walsh and do an art activity with mixing colors. Creating an experience with a book helps the book come to life, and further conversations about the book and learning experiences become more available.

I hope you can enjoy some of these tips! Stay tuned for a list of some of our favorite books coming on the blog next Wednesday, November 21st!

RyLee Matangi