Creating a reading culture in your home can take a long time to create, but the results will have a great influence on your kids for the rest of their lives. If you want your child to love to read and to read well, you need to be intentional about creating a reading culture in your home. In our society, reading isn’t a gate most kids will choose to go through themselves.
If you are a farmer you know the importance of head gates for watering your crops. If you open all of the head gates at once, the water takes the path of least resistance which makes it so the fields are not watered evenly.
As human beings, we tend to go through the head gate of least resistance, the one that looks entertaining with the least amount of effort. That gate usually leads to video games, social media, movies etc. These activities are highly entertaining and doesn’t require a lot of brain power.
This article is fantastic and talks about head gates. Go to Step 5 to help parents understand the importance of opening and closing certain head gates in their children’s lives. When you close certain head gates, and open others than the field gets watered evenly and the crop grows a flourishes.
Creating a reading culture in your family may mean that you have to close certain head gates and open others for your kids to go through. You need to be intentional and set the example for your children.
A real life example that we can all learn from.
If you haven’t seen the movie Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story, you need to. This is a perfect example of how a mother closed one head gate and opened another for her kids to go through. It changed the culture in her home from a media cultured home to a reading culture home. Ben Carson’s mother, who was illiterate, cleaned homes for a living. She began to notice that the homes of rich people always had lots of books within them.
She came home one day and shut off the TV and told her boys that they were only allowed to watch 2 shows every week. They were to go to the library and begin reading books and write book reports on those books. This was difficult at first but over time this one decision changed these boys lives.
Ben Carson became a world renowned surgeon and successfully separate twins conjoined at the head. This occurred because of an illiterate mother who dared to do something hard and was intentional in creating a reading culture in their home. She dared to close one head gate, and opened another for her boys to go through.
Here are a few tips to help you begin creating a reading culture in your home.
#1 – Create some goals as a family to read more books.
This has been such a great thing in our family. When you have goals, write them down, and refer to them often it motivates people to accomplish things they otherwise would do. We started using this book tracker in our family to track our books that we read. I have a 10 year old who is reading books almost as fast as I am. He is motivated to read, to keep up on his goals, and to watch his chain grow.
#2 – Set limits on screen time
Just as we saw in the example above, if we allow our kids to watch TV all of the time, they will choose to watch TV all of the time. Set limits so your kids know what to expect. In our home we only watch TV on the weekends, and even then it is very minimal.
Start where you are and go from there. If your kids watch TV everyday for 3 hours, then begin by decreasing it to 1 hour a day. I highly recommend removing as much screen time as you can. It is amazing what happens when your kids get bored. They start to create and learn new skills they otherwise wouldn’t do. Try this 30 day experiment of NO SCREEN TIME and see what happens in your home.
#3 – You set the example by putting your phone down and picking up a book
Your example can have a huge effect on your kids. Ask your kids questions about their books they are reading and begin a great discussion. When you have time, instead of looking at your phone, grab a book and start reading.
#4 – Read aloud to your kids
This is so much fun for our family. We read a lot of books together. It is so fun to be living life and have one of your kids say, “Hey mom, remember in that book…”. It sparks conversation and creates a bond in your family. You learn together and grow together.
If you don’t read aloud to your kids, start small. Trying 10 minutes everyday. You may be surprised how much your kids will love it.
#5 – Create incentives for each book they read.
I pay my kids for every book that they read. Yes… reading is that important to me. Another great incentive I have used is to buy some unique snacks for reading time that each child can take and eat while they read. My boys love it when I do this. Food is always a great incentive. 🙂
#6 – Find ways to display books in your home with the cover facing out.
The Read-Aloud Revival has a fantastic podcast on this topic. If you create spaces around your house with the books facing outwards it will attract and invite your children to pick them up and read them. Something so simple, but can provide drastic results.
I got my shelves at Ikea. I rotate the books every month so there is always something to look at.
#7 – Place books around your home to catch the attention of your kids
Don’t just have one place where your books are located. Create multiple places with a little reading nook, a basket of books or just a couple books placed on tables and couches through out the house. Place them in places where they are readily available. Make it easy for your kids to just open and read without too much additional effort.
I have placed some books on my couches and have found my boys sitting and reading through them on multiple occasions.
#8 – Discuss as a family the books you are reading
This is an important aspect that brings learning to a whole new level. Discussing with your kids things that matter will educate your kids on important topics. It brings ideas to their minds that they normally wouldn’t even think of. Family discussions of books can be really powerful.
I have a dear friend who has worked really hard to have a reading culture in their home. As parents they give books to their kids to read and they all read it and then get together and discuss it. They read books that are classics and teach something worthwhile. Their kids are brilliant and are successful in life.
Being an intentional parent is definitely not easy, but the impact it will have on your kids will be great. Start small and move forward to creating the reading culture you would like to have in your home. Good luck!
If you have any other ideas to create a reading culture in the home, I would love to hear from you!