Saturday, 7 January 2017

Children Who Love Books

This year I am taking part in the Virtual Curriculum Fair 2017, which is hosted by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts and Minds. This is the second week, and the theme is Playing With Words: The Language Arts.

The themes for the coming weeks are:

16th January - Discovering Patterns: Mathematics, Logic, and some Science
23rd January - Exploring Our World: Social Studies and more Science
30th January - Seeking Beauty: The Arts and Everything that Brings Beauty to Our World

Children Who Love Books

How do you encourage children to love reading?

How do we get our children to pick up a book rather than reach for the remote, or to be lost in Middle Earth rather than Minecraft?

We have reached the stage where three of our children are reading well (they are 11, 9 and 7), and our youngest is keen to be reading too, and enjoying audio books while she plods on with her phonics.

Not only are they reading well, but all three boys genuinely love to read, and will choose to read for pleasure regularly. This is a joy; I love books, and sharing one of my greatest pleasures with my children is great fun. It also means that I can read on the tube or the bus too as we travel around London.

What have we done to foster this love of books?

1) Example. There are books everywhere in our house, and it is not unusual for the children to find me or my husband reading. We often talk about what we read - and my husband will also suggest good Christian books that I might enjoy. The children hear this, and get involved in the conversations, and want to be included too.

2) Screen-time limits. Our children love books - they are unashamedly enthusiastic about reading; however, if they could play on the ipad or watch TV, they would probably choose that every time. It's engaging and easy and fun. There is a place for TV or computer games, but we keep strict limits on how much they are allowed so that it doesn't squeeze out time for other activities such as reading.

3) Set Reading Time. For half an hour a day after lunch, the children are sent to sit on their beds with a book that I have set them to read. Often, though not always, I will set them something that fits in with the history we are studying at the time. Alternatively, I will just choose a well-written book that I think will be good for them to have read, and that they will enjoy. This is helpful as it gets them to read more widely than they would naturally choose. They also like to know that at other times they can read what they choose, so they don't stress that reading a new or challenging book uses up time for re-reading an old favourite. Sometimes they will request a certain book for set-reading time, and I am usually happy to accommodate them.

4) Reading Aloud. Picture books, story books, factual books, art books, novels; history books, science books, biographies. I usually have about three books on the go, and I will read some of each after breakfast before the children get on with their work books. I usually have one Christian book, one novel, and one fact book of some kind at any one time. There is something special about the shared family experience of reading books together, and it is one of our favourite parts of the day. In addition, I will try to read to the younger two regularly at bedtime.

5) Audio Books. With the best will in the world, I could not read aloud enough to satisfy my children, so audio books are a much loved part of our family life. Almost exclusively, we have downloaded free books from librivox - books which are now out of copyright, and which have been recorded by volunteers. Even our eldest (now 11) listens to audio books every day. We bought him some grown-up colouring books for Christmas, and he spends lots of time listening to Sherlock Holmes while doing some colouring. We also use audio books for long car journeys where reading makes our children car-sick.

Listening to Stories and Colouring

6) Choose Carefully. I try to pick books that my children will like - not just my favourite books! I have three boys, and though they have wide tastes in reading, there will inevitably be some books from my childhood that are less appealing. They also enjoy reading lots of fact books that I would not have chosen to pick up when I was a child - I always preferred fiction.

7) Reading Challenges. We have had a Summer Reading Challenge for the last couple of years, where each child has a target of a number of books to read (or have read to them), with awards for bronze, silver and gold levels. Michael and I have had a challenge each too. Last summer we had to add an extra platinum level in for the children as they read more than we anticipated. This year, we are attempting a Christian Reading Challenge together. Week 1 has gone well, but it is too soon to tell if we will all be persevering with it all year; I hope we will be.

Some of My 11 Year Old's Books for our Christian Reading Challenge

8) Outside Encouragement. We have friends and family who recommend and lend their books with great generosity to our children, which gives them a wider selection of material, and more people to talk about their reading with. We also have book groups as part of our home education group that I run with a friend, and this has been a lot of fun for the children too.

Please visit my fellow homeschool bloggers who are writing about Playing with Words this week:

All posts will be live by Monday, January 9th at noon EST.
Delight Directed High School English by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds
Act Your Part Well- 2017 VCF by Lisa @ Golden Grasses
The Search For Language by Michele@Family, Faith and Fridays
Our Top Picks for Language Arts by Amanda H @ Hopkins Homeschool
Multiple Approaches to Language Arts in 2017 by Laura @ Day by Day in Our World
How We Cover the Language Arts in Our Homeschool by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory

Use Your Words by Laura @ Four Little Penguins
The Art of Perfecting Macarons by Jennifer @ A Glimpse of Our Life
Loving Languages Every Day by Jen K @ A Peace of Mind
Speech Therapy & Elementary Latin by Yvie @ Gypsy Road
The Readin' and Writin' Part of Homeschool by Shecki @ Greatly Blessed
Children Who Love Books by Lizzy @ Peaches At Home
Customizing High School Language Credits by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool
A Poetry Feast by Sarah @ Delivering Grace
Teaching Language Arts without Curriculum by Brittney @ Mom's Heart
I know your pain and it is worth it! by Kim @ Good Sweet Love
Language Arts: Our Style by Annette @ A Net in Time
Words! Words! Words! by Lisa M @McClanahan 7
10 Wonderful Word Games (+1) by Lori @ At Home: where life happens

Finding the Right Words by Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break
What About Reading Comprehension? by Kristen @ Sunrise to Sunset
Teaching Grammar and Writing Through Discussion by Chelli @ The Planted Trees


  1. Lots of great ideas for encouraging reading! We've been really fortunate that all of our children have become strong readers and enjoy reading. I don't know whether to attribute that to our family habits or not, but it's still wonderful to curl up for a family read aloud. :)

    1. Yes - I'm sure we could have done all this (and more and better!) and still had children reluctant to read! Still, it all helps, I think!

  2. I am impressed with some of the books that your 11 year is reading...have to see if I can get my lad to read some of that. :)

    1. He spent all of last night reading Far Side cartoons - so he reads all sorts of levels of material!

  3. We have done all of this and still have a reluctant reader. He is 11 now, but I still have a little bit of hope that some day he will catch the love from the rest of us.

    1. That's hard; there are no guarantees, are there? Even though there is lots you can do to help, not everyone will love books to the same extent.