Teaching Children to Love Books


Teaching Children to Love Books

Dear Parents:

I learned to read in the first grade by my teacher, Mrs. Gilman, who was tall and dressed in a blouse and skirt--down to the knees--wearing black pumps and bright red lipstick. She was stern, but she had a friendly face. Mrs. Gilman taught me to read when I was six, and it unlocked the door to another world for me; a world of interesting characters where anything was possible. 

To encourage us to read more, Mrs. Gilman had circles for each student with our names on them. She cut the circles from colored construction paper and taped them in front of the classroom on the wall behind her desk. Each circle was placed in a horizontal line according to how many books the student had read. It was my introduction to competition, but I didn't care because I loved reading for the sheer enjoyment of it.

Reading was never turned into a chore in my childhood, neither in the school or the home. Mrs. Gilman never asked me to write book reports; I don't remember a single teacher in elementary school asking me to write a book report. At home, books were treated as special gifts to receive, especially from my father, on birthdays and holidays. Our home was full of books. We even had a library; a room that was dedicated entirely to books. I was taught to love books, and I disappeared into the world of books quite often. To this day, everyone in my family reads a lot.

In the current school system, often times, the spirit of reading is forgotten and it becomes another subject to be tested on. Children are also taught to read too early, which hinders their chances of falling in love with reading for its own sake. In light of this, to raise good readers it would behoove us to follow some time-tested customs, such as reading quality books to our children when they are young. As they begin to read themselves, we can choose good books for them to read, so they develop good taste in books. We can read together as a family in the evening, or whenever we're able to set time aside during the day. Filling our homes with good books that are within our children's reach, and reading good books ourselves, encourages children to read.

These are some of the ways to raise children who love to read and who grow up to be avid and competent readers.