Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when we as parents, leaders and teachers encourage the rising generation to read. The ability to read is vital to survival as adults; the ability to read well leads to success; the love of reading brings many hours of enjoyment. I encourage parents to make reading an important part of the lives of their family members and to develop life-long readers.
I believe that children and youth are influenced by many different people - parents, grandparents, friends, teachers, and other leaders. I believe that we can influence others best by modeling the behavior we desire in others. In this case, we can influence others to read by showing them that reading is important.
Many families make weekly trips to the library to check out books. Having new books in the house is an excellent opportunity to read aloud to the children. New parents seem to automatically read to their new baby, but reading seems to fall by the wayside as the baby grows. Babies, toddlers, preschoolers, elementary school children, teenagers, and even adult children enjoy hearing their mother read to them. I remember a camping trip that my family took a few years ago. We rented canoes and made our way through a system of lakes to our camping spot. I pulled a book out of my pack and was pleased to hear my college-age daughter say, "Read to us, Mom." We had a delightful time reading around the campfire that evening.
I like to have a book with me wherever I go. Carrying a book is such an easy thing to do, but it is also very rewarding. I am thrilled when I see my children and grandchildren bring books along on vacations. Some of the children read in the car as the family travels. All of them enjoy reading before bedtime. One of my granddaughters takes so many books to bed with her that there is hardly room for her in the bed! My older sister brought several of her grandchildren with her to our family reunion. Some of the grandchildren were old enough to drive; my sister read to them as they traveled. The book she read was Mrs. Mike.
Regan McMahon posted an article entitled "How to Raise a Reader" that listed many different things that parents can do to encourage reading in their homes. Here are her suggestions for developing life-long reading: 1) Read aloud to children. 2) Savor the series. Children can get hooked on reading by becoming very interested in a long story. 3) Grab onto a genre. Help your children to find something that truly interests them. 4) Feed the favorite-author addiction. 5) Count on the Classics. Classics are books that generation after generation enjoys. I have found that children especially enjoy books that their parents read.
6) Find books about the things your kid loves whatever it is - horses, cars, trains, wild animals, circuses, etc. 7) Funny is fine. Children love to read books about other children and their escapades. 8) Comics are OK. Graphic novels are one of the latest trends in reading. Even comic books are okay because reading is reading! 9) Make reading a family value. Make sure your children know that you value books and the ability to read. Let them see you reading newspapers, books, magazines, etc.
Children, teenagers, and college students are back in school now or will soon be in school. This is a great time of the year to establish new habits, and reading is an excellent habit to develop. When we encourage the rising generation to read good books, we are strengthening not only our family but our community and nation.