Cultivating A Love For Reading

If you follow me on Instagram you’ll see that sometimes I post pictures of my adorable niece. Especially since I’ve been babysitting her a lot. One of her FAVORITE things in the world is her books and she’s always carrying them around. Exhibit A:

cultivating readers

I’ve pretty much made it my duty, as Genevieve’s aunt, to turn her into a reader and pretty much it’s the easiest job so far because she loves her books! While I’ve been babysitting I’ve been making it a point to read to her a lot and she really does love it. She’ll sit there for far longer than I expect her one year old attention span to allow. I just love this little bond we have and hopefully I can keep cultivating that little bookworm side of her!

Between that and composing my bookish memories recently, I started thinking, “What made ME a reader? Where did that come from? Can I pinpoint it?”

I don’t know that I can pinpoint it exactly but I have a few ideas of the factors that lit the spark in little reader Jamie (who is very cute by the way…remember?).

1

 I remember always loving to be read to as a child — by my parents or by babysitters. “Just one more” was always a phrase I was saying before bedtime.

2

 My mom and my dad weren’t readers so I know it wasn’t like it was a family thing for us as much as I’ve seen really cute memories from other bloggers about reading being a very family thing. Definitely wasn’t my household. BUT I do remember my mom always encouraging me to read and giving me her special Nancy Drew books from when she was a child and pretty much never  denying me new books when I had read mine 30 times over. It was very much a hobby that she supported when I was young and, in doing so, my favorite childhood books just spurred me on to seek out MORE.

3

 I think this was a big one and was on my list of memories from yesterday but when my dad got remarried I gained a really lovely stepmom and she would take me to the library EVERY week in the summer. We would literally spend hours there exploring and discovering. She never complained about taking me (because she loves to read) and she never cared that my stack of books was so huge. By her taking me to the library, she opened up all these doors to stories and characters and new worlds that made me into the reader I am today.

 

As I think about the factors that cultivated my love for reading at such a young age (though I’m sure you could argue I was pre-wired to be a book worm haha) I find it interesting that I was never forced to read. I was given opportunities and I took them and my sister was given the same opportunities, and while she would go to the library, she didn’t LOVE it like I did. I did have some friends who resented reading because they were FORCED by their parents to endure books they didn’t want to read. I also had friends whose parents NEVER took them to the library. I truly do attribute that early love for reading with having adults who were willing to take me to the library or buy me books so I could discover books for myself that driving force in my love for reading.

As I approach, at 27, that age where soon Will and I will be talking about kids I OBVIOUSLY know that I”m going to try to cultivate that love for reading in them. I’m going to read to them, let them discover books, take them to the library and show them how magical it is. I hope that they will love books like I do but there is a chance that they don’t. In that case, I will question if they are my child. Just kiddingggg. But really!

What I want to know from you: Where did your love for reading come from? Did you have people in your life who encouraged you to read? Where you ever a reluctant reader who grew into reading? And if you are a parent (because I want to start thinking about it NOW) how do you try to cultivate a love for reading in your children? Do you let it go if your child doesn’t like to read or try to make them stick with it and discover it even if it takes a little while?

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 30 year old married lady who is in denial that she's actually that old. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, listening to music with oversized headphones and having adventures with her husband and dog.

Comments

  1. I can’t remember not loving reading and books. My parents aren’t huge readers like I am, but they always were willing to read to me and give me that much needed extra five minutes. They laugh at me now how I used to think I was sneaky with a flashlight under my covers doing extra reading.

  2. I’ve actually thought about this question a lot, because I am a massive reader and my sister simply isn’t. Both of our parents are readers (or at least were growing up – Mum has slowed down in her reading) and so I tried to figure out how that happened.

    I think for me it stems from the fact that I was able to read before I went to primary school, and that was because of a TV program (I guess our version of Reading Rainbow? Just a bit different). Said TV show had ended when my sister would have been old enough to try it. That, coupled with her personality, just meant she wasn’t interested. Add in my being bullied (and using libraries and books as havens) and she wasn’t… and two different attitudes to reading.

  3. I seriously don’t know from where my love for reading comes from. I’m like you – both of my parents hate to read, they admit they even didn’t read books that were mandatory in school. But, the same as yours, they also did not discourage my love for books, they bought me the books I requested and my mother helped me to join the library (I had to ask, I think she never would think that someone would want something like that LOL). She even one time bought me box full of books (it was closing-down-sale at some bookstore) – I totally forgot to add this to my bookish memories. 🙁 *facepalm*
    So, as I said, I don’t know how I started to love reading, nobody read to me before bedtime. First books I had I received as presents, and they had beautiful illustrations so I wanted to know what is happening and I bothered my parents and grandparents to read them to me. And I got addicted to fairy tales and then I advanced trough adventure kids for children etc. I think it helped I had great librarians who always knew good book to recommend and they talked with me when I returned the book about my impressions. It was like being part of small book club. It’s the only downside of getting married and moving to new city – I miss my library. 🙁

  4. I was born Deaf and the Dr told my mom I would never read well. Well when you tell my mom you can’t she will. So she took matters into her own hands and bought me books and took me to the library and sat with me while we pored over the pages. As I got better and faster i developed a love a reading that continues to this day.

  5. My parents both read. (My mom has a bit of an affliction where she buys books and never reads them. I guess I inherited that from her, too!) And my parents read to me EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. At least one book. And I used to play “library,” which actually ended up defacing my books (SHAME) because I’d write in the back of them like those little checkout cards. My name was the only name on there, go figure, hahah. But still, it was fun. I totally enjoyed myself. And here I am today, a well-cultivated reader. Even if I do like to read trashy romance on the occasion 🙂

  6. Honestly, my love for reading has only decreased since I’ve gotten older, and I like to think it’s still pretty strong now! I was such an avid reader growing up. The biggest treat I can remember from age 6 or so to age 15 was when my mom and stepfather would take me to Barnes and Noble. My stepfather encouraged me to buy every book I wanted to read, they never told me I couldn’t have a book. Sometimes I would leave with 10 to 12! I always dove into reading them as soon as they were in my hands, too. I would usually have at least one book finished by the end of the car ride home! Even now, I’m 19 years old and in college, and I mostly support myself — meaning I’m broke! But every time I want to read a book I pick up the phone and call Mom, at her insistence, because she says she never wants me to be without something to read. I can only hope my future children love books like I do.

    Really great post today! It made me nostalgic. And your niece is so adorable.

    – Paige

  7. Your niece is adorable, and it is great that you’re trying to turn her into a reader! I’m doing the same thing with my little sisters, and it seems to be working so far.
    I think I was pre-wired to be a reader (considering “book” was pretty much my third word after “mama” and “dada” and how I would bring my mom stacks of books and we would just read for two hours straight) but I am SO thankful to my mother for cultivating it. She says I had the longest attention span she has ever seen in a toddler, but she never complained. 🙂

  8. Love this post, especially since we were randomly talking about it last night! For my kids, I think a huge factor for them is SEEING ME READ all the time, rather than sitting around watching TV. We have books in the living room, TV in the basement. Kids want to be like their parents (at least when they are little.. haha) and I definitely feel my passion for reading has made a really positive impression on their feelings toward reading. After lunch we have a routine where they each pick 2 books… we go in the living room with our tea (they get water but in tea cups.. haha) and I read to them. My husband also has a special bond over reading to them before bed every night. Starts with 2 books, then he gets roped into telling at least 3 stories. My 4 year old is so creative and I know some of that stems from reading!

  9. Ginger @ GReads! says:

    I honestly don’t know where my love for reading came from.. myself? I didn’t become a “reader” until I was in my late 20s. Before that books bored me or I just had no interest in them. I was never forced to read a book, or discouraged from it either.. I just didn’t have that person in my life to encourage it. I think that’s why a huge part of me wants to be a Language Arts teacher. I feel like I need to give back, in place of what I never got at that age. Books can change people — I know it’s changed me, even if it took quite awhile. I’m jealous of all the readers who have fond memories of going to bookstores and libraries as a kid and how happy it made them. Yes, I went to those places too, but never got that “feeling” when I did. But oh man, that “feeling” is definitely present when I visit today! Ha!

  10. I love that you’re already getting Genevieve into reading!! 🙂 How cute!!
    I kind of went back and forth on reading… I learned to read at a really young age (I started when I was like 3 going into 4) and I loved reading as a kid, but then once I was forced to read things that I didn’t like for high school, it was REALLY hard to keep that love going. Except for Harry Potter and a few books I borrowed from my sister, the only things I was reading in HS were books for school. That, and I was really busy with my friends, choir, sports, etc.
    In college, I finally started to get back into things since I didn’t have so much “required” reading (it all started when my friend introduced me to a little book called Twilight…) and then I got back into cheap, used mysteries from the book store and then swung into dystopians and voila! My love of reading was back! It was fun again!!!
    Moral of the story? Even something I love can get killed if I’m FORCED to do it.
    Lovely post, as always!!!

  11. Your niece is so adorable, and I love that you’re already getting her into reading! I honestly think I get my love of reading from my mother. She’s always been a big reader, and from the time I was little was pushing books on me and encouraging me to read for enjoyment and for fun. She was also the one who would take me to the library to browse through books, and who would read to me at night. In many ways I do think that if it wasn’t for her stressing the importance of reading and the value of doing it for enjoyment, I wouldn’t have found myself loving it so much. Especially with all the different books I had to read when I was in high school for my advanced english classes. There are some books from those days that I’m still afraid to pick up and look at again!

  12. Reading to one’s kids is definitely key, but I agree with bookrockbetty that my kids seeing ME read as a habit was a key part of their developing a love of reading. My youngest started reading later than her sister, but listened to audiobooks instead and now she loves both. One of my favorite memories is the first time my girls and I just hung out together on the couch on a lazy summer day, each of us reading our own book. Heaven!
    I also started a “Read-a-thon” at my kids’ elementary school (and it continues without me!). Every fall, kids (and their parents, too) set a goal for how many minutes they’ll read each day for 10 days (outside of school work and the school day). We have events that include the local high school visiting and performing adaptations of picture books, and kinder parents coming in to read to kids at recess (being read to counts). Then if you reach your goal, you earn a Read-a-thon tee shirt. We have a logo created by a parent that is printed on a simple white shirt in a different color every year, and kids can “collect all six”. I truly think this heightens awareness of reading for pleasure in families where it might not be a priority, and helps make reading an alternative habit to video games or TV.

  13. My parents definitely encouraged me to read and they were readers themselves. To this day we still make family trips to bookstores where we all meet up at the cash register with piles of books…which leads to all of us having every growing piles of books that need to be read. As far as I can remember books were always around in my house and they were something that my parents never said no to buying whenever my brother and I would ask for new ones. And I think that the fact that I would see my parents reading just because they wanted to is something that definitely made me in the type of reader that I am, I never really saw reading as an obligation and always as something that should be fun and enjoyed. So I guess I can thank my parents for that one.

  14. My mother is the only one who reads in my family (from time to time) except for me. My sister thinks it’s boring and she and my cousin often end up mocking me (no ill intentions, though, so I don’t really give them the time of the day :D). The rest of my family think I’m weird for reading books, but my mother encourages me to read a lot and often buys me books herself.
    While my sister still lived with us, I tried to make my nephew like books, but he always ended up throwing them at me or stomping on them if he didn’t like the pictures. Good news is he ended up liking a book I sent to my sister as his Christmas present and my sister says he likes to look at the pictures almost all the time. So, I’m halfway done corrupting him 😀

  15. This was a really interesting post – I think personally, both my parents were (and are) big readers, and always read to me before bed and probably whenever I wanted a story! My brother and I didn’t watch a great deal of television (or rather, we watched television but only when we were watching something specific, it was never just on in the background). I think because my parents read a lot it just seemed natural, and then my mum would take me to the library every week to pick out books, and my grandad would buy me books quite often too, because I read so fast as a kid! I think the fact that reading was just seen as normal and as a thing you did for fun meant that I absorbed that attitude towards books as well. Great post!

  16. My love of reading came one hundred percent from my parents. They read to me pretty much every single day from the time I was born until I was old enough to read myself. When I got to that age, they would still read with me, but we would either read together or I would read to them. Mom would read me horse novels (Walter Farley, Marguerite Henry) and dad would read me dog books (Jack London, Jim Kjelgaard). Because of that, reading has just always been part of my life, and it’s always been more of a social activity than it is for some people.

    Oh, also, I think that having me read with or to them once I was able was a really crucial thing. It made me more confident about reading aloud in class, and I tend to stumble over words as I read much less than other people. To this day, I still read books aloud to myself sometimes, and I always read plays aloud.

  17. I don’t remember how I actually discovered book but I know it all began with Enid Blyton and her Famous Five series. I remember getting excited for the library period in school every week and I used to save money to buy books. I discovered books along the way as I grew up from Sweet Dreams to Sweet Valley, Harry Potter, mystery, chick lit and finally young adult.

    Funny thing is, at one point or another, almost everyone in my family had been a reader. However, my parents didn’t really encourage me to read, they were more like what are you doing holed up in your reading all day? And I never got how you become a non-reader. But ever since I’ve started blogging, they get that it’s serious and that I’ll always be a reader. And I think now they’re somewhat proud of me that I am.

    So yes, I’d totally want my children to love reading and if they won’t, they so aren’t mine. Ha ha. But life works in mysterious ways so you never know.

  18. Cheryl Sammons says:

    Jamie, you are so fortunate to have someone to take you to the library. My daughter has worked at the library since she was 16. It was her first job. She is now 39 and she will be able to retire from there when she is 55. She loves to read. She lets me know what websites are available for free ePub books. She reminds me of books that I want to read that haven’t come out yet. She see’s all the books on crocheting and quilting before they hit the shelves. She alone, increases the circulation of each library she works at. At any given time she’s reading up to 4 books. Her card is maxed out. I prefer to think that I was the one who started her on her journey to fullfilling her imagination. I read more now that I have a NOOK than I have in the last 10 years. Harry Potter was my book series that got my nose back into reading. Not bad for a muggle.

  19. I don’t have kids but I have two very young nephews (ages 3 & 5). It’s interesting to see how they each interact with books and to learn which books fascinate them because they’re both SOOOOO very different. It really makes you wonder if a love of reading is an inherit thing!

    I was never forced to read, growing up. It’s just something that I liked to do. In fact, neither of my parents were book nerds (though, I’m slowly changing my dad’s mind through the wonderful world of audiobooks) . My younger brother and I both love to read, although, me more so than him. I was always that girl that freaked out at the book fair, read for fun, lived at the library and squealed when the mobile library came to my neighborhood (I liked it more than the ice cream truck even)!

    If/when I have kids, I will definitely be reading to them. While I don’t believe you should ever force something on to a child, I will have hope that he/she enjoys it as much as I do.

  20. This is such a great post, Jaime! And something that I have (obviously) been thinking about quite a lot over the past 9 months 😉 Both my husband and I are HUGE readers and a have a house full of books, and nothing would break my heart more than our child growing up and not loving to read as much as I do (well, perhaps my husband would be equally broken-hearted if our child doesn’t love to play chess like he does!) As a little girl, my parents read to me until I could read by myself (and they never refused what I wanted to read, even if it was “Are You My Mother?” 27 times in a row). Neither of them were big readers; they read on occasion (like packing books on holidays), but can take months to get through a book. My husband’s parents don’t really read at all, since they immigrated to Canada and don’t read much English at all. So, for both of us, our love of reading was kind of self-motivated, but still encouraged by our parents by taking us to the library whenever we wanted to. That’s going to be the way I’ll approach reading when our little one arrives: read to him or her a ton, then step back and hope that love of reading blossoms into an independent drive to read all of the books NOW.

  21. Honestly, I think I just WAS a reader. I’m not sure how it happened. I think my parents wondered too – they like to read as well, but I was a fanatic.

    I’d stay up late and read after I was supposed to go to sleep. I got punished for that way more than anything else growing up!

  22. I remember, at age 3, begging my mom to teach me to read. She loved to read and on lazy Sunday afternoons she would lie in bed with my sister and me and both of them would read. It was the most peaceful time I can remember within my childhood.

    She taught me to spell certain words, but I wasn’t catching on as quickly as I did most things and I was incredibly frustrated. In first grade, my teacher noticed I’d have all the right letters in my spelling assignments, but often not in the right order. My mother being a teacher as well had a lot of connections within the education community and we quickly found that I am dyslexic.

    After learning this and getting help to overcome it, I was reading chapter books by the age of 6. I remember hating Babysitter’s Club so much and loving Boxcar Children.

  23. I have no idea where my love of reading came from. Neither of parents like to read, and nobody else in my family really does, either. I actually remember not liking books very much when I was like eight. But I picked up this magical book (don’t laugh) named Twilight when I got older, and was pretty enamored with it. After that, I moved onto the Hunger Games, and that just lead to the whole YA genre in general. Then I started checking out some adult titles, and all in all, in grew into a lovely obsession with reading. Great post. 🙂

  24. Wow do you mind if I use this idea for my blog? What a great post and such a thoughtful one at that.
    I don’t really know how I got to love reading I have just always loved to read. I remember in 2nd grade my teacher had a huge stack of books in her room that we could read when we had free time. I remember reading almost every book in her library. Then my mom bought me the Junie B. Jones box set. I didn’t overly enjoy the books. It really took off for me in third grade when my teacher introduced the Fudge books by Judi Blume to us. I loved those books and my mom bought all of them for me. Then during fifth grade I discovered the Magic Tree House books which were probably a little below my reading level, but I enjoyed them. Middle school was a new start for me. I discovered The Little House on the Praire series and spent 6th and 7th grade reading those books. Then in 8th grade I discovered The Love Comes Softly Series by Janette Oke. After I finished that series I couldn’t wait to keep discovering more and more books which is the way I am now. I used to not be a big computer user so I would just look for series in the library and then find the next one in the series through the back of the book. I think I was a more sheltered reader at that time because I would basically just read books by one author. Now I have so many favorite authors I can’t even count. Reading is one thing I would love to foster in every child, but truth be told less americans read today than they did in years past. I think forced assignment reading actually does the opposite of what it is supposed to do because when they are forced to read a book that is boring then people who don’t read think all books are this way. I usually don’t like the books we read in school, but I love the books I pick to read by myself 98% of the time. I love reading and I love sharing it with other people and that is why I started my blog.

  25. I grew up in an extended family of readers — reading was encouraged and valued, but not shoved down my throat which probably was a big reason I became a reader too. But the day I realized all the other genres out there (other then just the ones the people in my family preferred) was when the whole world of reading was really opened up to me. Also, my reading was monitored a lot less closely than say, the movies I watched. The general idea was that any kind of reading was a good thing, so it was always fun to read stories that were a little more “adult” – -I always felt like I was getting away with something!

  26. My dad loves reading but it actually wasn’t him who passed on the reading bug to me. It was my aunt who would spend hours on end reading picture books with me. One book I remember so very clearly was The Wind in the Willow. It was amazing! 🙂

  27. Your niece is SOOOO cute! 🙂 My mom read to me almost every day from the time I was born to about 4 years old. After that, I picked it up myself. Since I was way ahead of the other kids at school when it came to reading, my teachers always gave me piles of books to read, which I think helped cultivate my love as well. Also, I’m an only child so when I was young I had to find ways to entertain myself, and reading was my activity of choice!

  28. My love of reading definitely comes from my grandpa. I remember him reading all the time when I was little, and one of my favorite stories is the time my aunts and uncles were playing Trivial Pursuit with him, and couldn’t figure out why he was winning. It turned out he would spend hours reading the questions over and over! A couple of my cousins like to read but another cousin pretty much reads only when he has to for school. I was never forced into reading, and seeing my grandpa read so much and how much he wanted to learn had such a huge impact because I saw reading was fun.

  29. Wonderful topic. I have plans to do one or two posts on this myself! I was pretty much destined to be a reader, because when I was born premature and had to stay in the hospital as itty bitty baby Molli, my mom recorded different fairy tales (so she tells me) and played the tapes for me, as well as read to me. I can remember being three or four, and her reading to me. As such, I was the first kid in my kindergarten class to learn how to read, and I brought “Baby Minnie’s Day Out,” to the class and read it to them. My mom and grandma fostered and encouraged my love of reading, and it just grew and grew over the years!

  30. I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit lately, too! My cousin is having her first child next month, and we were all asked to bring a beloved childhood book to her baby shower last weekend. I started thinking about how and why I love to read . . . and how I could pass that on to a child. So your post is quite timely!

    Both of my parents love to read — and recognized the value of education. My sister and I were read to almost every day by my mom and dad or grandparents, and we grew up with favorite stories always popping around our heads. As I got older and was advanced enough for “chapter books,” the adults in my life encouraged me to grab as many as I could! I think never being refused a book — either from the library or the bookstore — contributed to my voracious appetite to read as much as I could. And that’s probably what led me to writing, too.

  31. I come from a very bookish family. My Grandfather was an English professor and I have many cousins/aunt/uncles who teach English or write. Books were always around. My mom restricted our TV and made us read. She introduced me to the books she loved (Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, etc…) and it grew from there. One thing that makes me chuckle was her insistence on supporting authors whose books were banned. Every time she read something about a Judy Blume book being challenged or banned, she would go out and get it for us to read. Something that my family is *not* good about, though, is accepting all of the different types of books out there. I am related to some book snobs and that is something that I try not to pass down to my kids. I might not be a fan of 50 Shades, but I don’t believe in looking down on people for what they read. So, acceptance is another thing I hope that my kids gain from my love of books.

  32. It’s really interesting for me to think about how I became such a voracious reader. I know that my sisters and I (especially the one who’s only 2 years younger) basically were exposed to the same opportunities when it came to reading, but it never clicked with them the way it did for me.

    (1) My parents really encouraged me to read, especially my mom. When I was in her womb, she read to me. When I couldn’t understand anything, she read to me. When I was older and could point to stuff, she read to me. She was endlessly patient when it came to reading me stacks and stacks of books as a child. And when I got older, both she and my dad were really awesome about getting me new books ALL THE TIME.

    (2) My grandfather might not have been as big a reader, but he was always taking me to the bookstore and saying I could get X number of books and he would buy them for me. I got some of my favorite books this way!

    (3) When I was still living in the US as a child, my teachers were amazing at getting me to read. When I was in the second grade, my teachers signed me up to read to the pre-schoolers and when I was in the third grade, my teacher would gift me with books. This also worked out in the Philippines, since I ended up reading a lot of extra books during classes when I finished with assigned readings.

    I’m definitely determined to cultivate a love of reading in my future children. It’s going to be something that we share with them as their parents, and I hope they inherit our love of stories!

  33. Aw, Genevieve is such an adorable little reader. My nephew (he’s 2) has been a “reader” since he was a tiny tot too.

    Anyway, my mom was a HUGE supporter of my reading as a child. When I was 5 and already an avid reader, my mom created a summer reading program for me that mimicked the library’s. To participate in the library’s program you had to have a library card, and to have a library card you had to be 6. So I would read books and report to her each week, while my older sister did the same with the children’s librarian.

  34. My mom used to read a lot when I was younger (not quite so much anymore) so I grew up being around it. She also used to read me books at night, like, not just when I was a toddler, but up through 3rd or 4th grade. Reading has always been my life, I’ve never even considered not having it as a part of me, you know?
    I think the fact that I’ve never really been good with people and always liked my time alone has made it sort of a comfort, as well.

  35. Oh Jamie, I love this post so much! You’re seriously the queen of incredible discussions posts. I just am so excited every time I see a new fear/confession/discussion post from you – and I love the responses you get just as much! You’ve done an incredible job of creating a place for readers to come and share. Pat yourself on the back for that girlfriend.

    Anyway, to the topic at hand: I know my parents were really instrumental in my love for reading. They aren’t necessarily huge readers themselves, but I’m the firstborn and they made it a priority to read to me a lot. My mom actually jokes about how I used to be unable to fall asleep unless I had a book in my crib with me! And then I took off from there – Dear America and American Girls books were some of my favorites. I’m really thankful that they bought me so many books and really encouraged me to love reading! I also know both of my grandmother’s had an impact, too. They both LOVE reading and would always talk me with about what book I was reading at the time. My mom’s mom would buy me books a lot – something I’ve mentioned on my blog before. But I do wonder if some people are just more likely to be readers because none of my siblings really love to read like I do. Who knows! But I’ve loved reading others’ ideas and comments on where their love came from 🙂

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