Reading is fundamental. Sometimes. Kinda.

the future author
The future author

Over the last few weeks, I’ve watched as my six year-old has fallen madly, deeply head over heels in love. With reading.

It’s our school’s annual Celebrate Reading month at school in which they all log minutes spent with books for their Readathon. With a fabulous first grade teacher dedicated to winning (I mean, reading), the kids are all in. Thalia is begging to get in bed early to spend more time with Amelia Bedelia or Mouse Soup. She’s staying up far too late, begging me for just one more chapter in the latest Oz book.

Of course, if I am to be honest, Thalia is also madly, deeply in love with competition; maybe just a teeeeeensy bit more than she is with reading. Still, I’ll take it.

Because right now, I’m falling back in love with reading too.

Ever since I broke down and committed to the Kindle for iPad and iPhone, I find my morning commutes are nicer inputting instead of outputting. I could spend those 20 minutes stressing over everything I have to do that day, jotting down notes, getting a head start on work projects–or melting into Katnis Everdeen‘s world (I was addicted thanks to Christina‘s recommendation!), keeping up with the inventive chronology in A Visit From the Goon Squad, or discovering how the heck Keith Richards ended up Keith Richards.

Until recently, I was averaging maybe a novel a year. Two if it was a slow summer. Nate on the other hand, is voracious. He often has 2 or 3 books going at a time–Christopher Hitchens, Kurt Vonnegut, Nick Hornsby, Alan Richman.

I envy the dedication. And, yeah, the free time too.

It does take time. Time I often don’t have.

I need to make that time though. Because I had forgotten that when I read, I find myself refreshed. Inspired. Wanting to create. I don’t think you can be a writer without being a reader.

Actually, I think there’s a lot you can’t do when you’re not a reader.

Last week I had the joy of meeting Mo Willems at a press event for his new app, which is less ironic than it sounds for a guy so wildly committed to books. He happens to be a rock star in Brooklyn, and you can’t find a classroom here without pretty much every one of his titles.  But when he spoke about his app, I was really moved by his motivation–it grew out of a desire to help kids to be their own writers and readers and storytellers. It was proven later in the talk, when he answered a question from a 4 year-old boy who asked, Can your next book be “Don’t Let the Pigeon Poop On People’s Heads?”

The audience laughed, of course. And Mo answered, so genuinely, “no…but your next book can be. Why don’t you write it and send it to my publisher. I’ll make sure I read it.”

Mo Willems

It renewed my commitment to continue bringing that spirit into my own home. Not just in thought, but in deed.

From an early age, we’ve kept journals for me to jot down stories Thalia and Sage dictate. We play Mad Libs-style bedtime stories where they help create the characters. We write our own plays. And my mother (praise Gob for Grandma) is constantly “binding” little books that they illustrate.

Page 1
Future bestseller!

But the truth is, some of those journals haven’t been used for a while. Sometimes I’d rather sit and play a game with the kids than read to them. And sometimes it’s easier at the end of the day when I’m exhausted, to just press play on Annie for the zillionth time (aw, orphans are so talented!) than to tell the girls it’s book time.

I’m kind of wondering how I can do it more, though.

I want my kids to know the joy of good books. I want them to know the book is often better than the movie. I want them to know the book is better than the iPad app. And last week, when Thalia dressed up like Ozma for Halloween, I wanted her to know that it’s okay that people recognized Sage as Dorothy 100 times more often–save for the one wonderful woman in our building who looked at the red flower in her hair and said, well you must be Ozma. Bless her.

But mostly I want them to keep up this raging dedication to books that I’ve been seeing lately, even when there are no Readathon prizes to be won.

Do you honestly feel your kids are spending enough time with books?  How do you encourage your kids to read?


83 thoughts on “Reading is fundamental. Sometimes. Kinda.”

  1. Oh Reading. As an ex-English teacher, reading is so important to me. I do it selfishly a lot. I probably still find time to get in about 30 books a year. Sometimes, I shorten the time I read to my kids so that I can read. I know that sounds horrible. Reading is such a part of who I am.
    I want my kids to be readers and I am very fortunate that the school my kids are at is a literacy rich environment. They get stories every day. In my son’s class they have story workshop where kids create and illustrate their own stories. Our house is filled with books and both of my kids want to be readers.

    Reading is so very important. It teaches us so many things. Books are awesome. I need to make more time for my kids to be exposed to books and stories. It opens up a whole new world.

  2. Every corner of our house overflows with books (and other stuff because I am not so organized, but still, BOOKS)

    We’ve ritualized the bedtime story and created a sort of book-as-reward thing. This means that, yes, even when we aren’t feeling it, they crave, demand and expect books.

    Our reading is full contact, with everyone doing voices and gesticulations. I’m not sure if their love for it is for the actual reading, or the participatory aspect, what I do know is that at its root, our daughters’ emotion toward books is a passion. They don’t see it as either or with games or tv, and for now, safekeeping that is my plan.

    I’ll be checking back on your comments to see if there is a more solid plan I can adopt!

    1. This sounds like a wonderfully solid plan already. Doing the voices is the best part, isn’t it? That’s what’s so fun about the Oz books. (I do a mean Woggle Bug though my Scarecrow is a little erratic.)

  3. I will never think my kids spend enough time with books. If we read for 20 minutes, I feel bad for not reading 10 minutes more. Still, they do at least see ME reading, I am pretty hardcore when it comes to my book and it was the hobby that I held on to tightly even after having kids. I figure the best I can do for them is to be the role model, right?

    1. Such a great point Kelli. I love that my kids see Nate reading all the time. It reminds me of how important it is for your kids see you eat healthy, so you’re modeling good eating behavior. (Another thing I have to work on.)

      1. Honestly, Liz – I don’t remember my parents reading with me. Ever. I do remember them reading to themselves ALL the time. My younger sister was desperate, DESPERATE, to start reading because she could see the rest of us enjoying our books so much. 🙂

  4. No kids here (yet) but if it weren’t for reading programs like that, I’d have never picked up a book between second and sixth grade. My family always told me I should read, but never did anything about it. I’m surprised I read as much as I do (for fun) now that I’m an adult, considering how much I hated it as a kid.

    The other day, my husband asked me how he could become a better writer. I said, “Become a better reader.”

  5. I am maybe obsessed with getting them to love books. I love reading and believed my own love of reading played a huge role in my landing a free-ride to undergrad (thanks to OU and Nat’l Merit). In any case, we read two books per kid every evening. My four year old is now into some chapter books so sometimes he gets two chapters instead. Otherwise, we fill their rooms with books, take trips to the library ever tw0-three weeks and they and every kid I know get a book at each gift giving occasion. I try to research and find new awesome ones, but also shared the treasured ones of my own childhood. Reading time is my first suggestion when there is a lull in the chaos or I happen to see a book sitting nearby. I love it, they seem to love it and it is so awesome to happen on to my four year old with a book in his lap parsing his way through the words just for fun. (Although admittedly he does love his Wii adventures as much or more). So much joy, wonder, and adventure just waiting for us all.

    1. You sound like an amazing mom, raising amazing kids in a beautiful home. Thank you so much for this.

  6. I want to pick this post up and hug it. From your daughter’s love of books I’d long forgotten to Mo’s most excellent response to the child. I need to pick up a book this weekend.

  7. My husband and I are both book people. He’s become an eBook person; I’m not touching the stuff (even though he keeps loading stuff onto a Kindle for me). My kids LOVE to read, and they love to poke through our bookshelves discovering *The Human Body* and *MoMA* and *Smithsonian Natural History* and various photo albums. (Could they do that on a Kindle? Ha!)

    They demand several stories before bed, and they are calmed and reassured by books and “told” stories when they are upset or nervous (as in when we have no electricity). I look forward to sharing Little House, Harry Potter, Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys, and all the newer stuff that’s coming out now. And I look forward to their nights with a flashlight under the sheets – reading, of course. 😉

    1. It’s funny, I also felt a visceral resistance to ebooks. And yet it turns out, I’m reading way more now that I have them at my disposal all the time, without taking up any extra room in my bag. So I’m a convert! Though I still like reading printed books to the kids.

      Your future book list sounds fantastic. There were so many great book suggestions on my Oz post from readers, I’ve got a whole library to get through now!

      1. My husband says the same thing, with a knowing smile. Honestly, besides kids, the thing that has cut down most on my reading is no longer having a commute-by-train. That was my down-time to just read and then look out the window and think about what I had read.

        I miss that.

  8. My kids and I always have an audio book going in the car. As I live in suburbia, we are often in the car going from one activity to another. It is fabulous. We listen to great books voiced by great actors and the kids are too involved in the story to argue!

  9. Miss L has loved books from even before I read to her. I started reading the books when she was about 6 months old, but she was into them before that. She loved looking at the pictures. There’s not much I do to encourage her. I used to read to her for 20 minutes before bed, but that wasn’t enough, so now we make it 45 minutes to a full hour. Husband has to help; my voice gives out!

  10. It gets easier as they get older and can read for themselves. We currently pick a book and the girls and I all take turns reading one chapter at night. (On my kid nights at least.) It can take a while to finish a book, but that’s okay. Generally my oldest has already read it anyway.

    The way I made it more fun when my girls were your girls ages? Was to pick books at first that I loved as a kid. The Little Princess. Secret Garden. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Books that were classics. Books that were a bit beyond their reading levels, but still good stories. We started there and we’ve just kept going. Now I’m starting over with my son. But hey, that’s okay too.

    I love the Kindle and the Kindle apps. It’s made me start reading again too. Actual books!

  11. When I was teaching middle school English, it always broke my heart when kids would say “I hate reading!” because either they weren’t reading at home, or the systematic “assigned readings” had purged their initial affection for books. Thankfully, I got to do whatever I wanted in my classes, and so I often read aloud to them. Twelve year olds try to act cool, but you start reading a picture book, a novel or whatever else aloud to them and *magically* they’re three again. The wonder of books takes over.

    When I became a mother, it was was easy for reading to become a ritual in our house. We have books in every room, frequently strewn across the floor and smuggled under covers. And I know my kids are spending enough time with books, besides are nightly three-book bedtime ritual. I allow for boredom at home. Boredom is magical. It allows kids to wander and wonder and happen by a book and open the pages to see what’s what.

    Sorry for going on so much about this, but reading is a passion of mine. If you don’t mind, I’d like to recommend a couple of links:
    Mem Fox:

    November has been declared Picture Book Month

    And finally, Anita Silvey has been doing a wonderful job cataloging all the wonder of books through the ages

    And if you ever want to ask illustrators or authors about books, there are a TON of us on Twitter. 🙂 Just use the #kidlit or #kidlitart hashtag.

  12. Sometimes my girls lobby for “one more show” instead of a story, and sometimes I go for it. It depends, because I do love to read to them. But they also love to lay in bed reading (or, in the 4yo’s case “reading”) after “lights out”. (They fall asleep with a light on. I can’t fight the “I’m afraid of the dark” battle every night. The dark is scary!) I tried a chapter book with them recently, but they weren’t ready. We’ll try again. Maybe with Harry Potter. 🙂

  13. This is a truly painful subject for me because I don’t feel that my 10 year old spends enough time reading. As a matter of fact, he actively avoids it. Many of our arguments are about it and I was shocked to know that screaming “READ!! I SAID, READ!” doesn’t get them reading.

    But I take solace in that my daughter was resistant to reading as well at that age, but at 13, she’s a bookworm.

  14. I’m a “return learner” (code for THERE’S AN OLD LADY ON CAMPUS! or more delicately, “mature student”) two months away from my English BA Hons.

    I love to read, and wanted my kids to enjoy it as well. At seven and 12 they’ve taken to it so far, and I facilitate by encouragement – an unhurried trip to the bookstore, a new flashlight left accessible and an early bedtime with instructions to “read if you’re bored” all work wonders.

    I read to my kids constantly; still do, to the younger one. Anything they wanted. Before they could request it, I’d read aloud what I had on my nightstand. My daughter can tell you all about Tom Joad and Depression era migration – she “read” all about it when she was four.

    A love of reading may not be mandatory for future learning, but it sure makes the process more enjoyable.

  15. Oh, did you like The Hunger Games?!!?! I read those so addictively, the house fell down around me and the kids had to go through the garbage for food! (ok, not really, but almost)

    I used to let each child pick out a book and I’d read it to them at night but that started to take SO much time that now I just read a nice long chapter in a single book. Usually it’s my oldest who picks them out but not always. We’re on the third in the Penderwick’s series right now. I used to think there would be a day my kids would be “too old” to read to them at night, but my almost 11-year-old still loves story time, and I really, really hope she never outgrows it. (she reads some to herself too, but she much prefers listening to a story, either if I read it or if she listens to an audio book, and I’m ok with that).

    1. This is probably mildly humiliating so I probably shouldn’t share it, but for the record my parents read to us at night and told us stories well into my teenage years. I met and moved in with my then-boyfriend (now-husband) when I was twenty. As soon as we settled into a normal ‘family’ like evening routine, with dinner and getting ready and going to bed, we’d lay cuddled up and…something felt like it was missing. So I would ask him to tell me a story. To me there was always something so soothing and comforting and RIGHT about hearing a story in the night.

      My husband used to tease me about it CONSTANTLY, but he started coming around on the story-time thing once he realized how much he liked it. It was just a nice way to unwind after a long day. So we started incorporating it into our night-time routine. We read books together – one chunk of pages (or chapter) a night. We read them orally, back and forth, and then we go to bed. And sometimes, if it’s early in the evening or it’s a holiday or he’s just feeling particularly desperate for sex, he’ll even tell me a story while we’re laying in bed. I think it’s the sweetest thing in the world.

      Even if it does make me a giant dork =P

  16. I do not actually have to encourage my seven-year-old to read, and I thank the reading gods for that every day. In fact I sometimes I have to take books AWAY from him so that he’ll remember to, you know, do his math homework, or look where he’s walking, or eat.

    I would like to take credit for this by saying I filled his first bookshelf before he was born, or read to him for thirty minutes to an hour each day when he was a baby, or saying I took him to the library once a week when he was a toddler. In fact I DID actually do every one of those things.

    But I am not sure all that was necessary. I didn’t really do all that stuff because I wanted to train my son to be some sort of super reader. I did it because I love to read, and I love sharing the things that I love with him.

    I think the real key to getting your kids to love books is to show them that you love books yourself. If you treat reading like a wonderful thing, some day or another your kid will learn to think of it that way, too.

    1. I love this honesty, Jaelithe. Thank you. And you’re right–I think that some kids love to read, and some kids just love what their parents love. Either way, you done good.

  17. My son is only 2 1/2 and he reads by himself for up to half an hour at a time, in addition to asking me to read to him throughout the day, and at naptime and bedtime. I’m always happier to read with him instead of playing — I never feel like I’m as imaginative as the books. We go to the library at least once a week and always have about a dozen books checked out.

    I think I inadvertently encourage him to read by himself by getting sucked into a good book on my own and reading in front of him. Not sure if it’s really a good example — don’t bother me kid, I’m reading! — but it is what it is.

    All in all, I don’t know that he’ll stay so attached to books as he gets older, but I love the little breaks it gives me throughout the day right now 🙂

  18. Hooray for first grade authors! Writing and illustrating books is Lucas’ favorite thing to do, next to reading. He and Thalia would have quite a nerd-fest together. Or a publishing house.

    I truly believe children develop a love for things they do (joyfully) with their parents. Kids love to read when their parents do. I’m not sure what to do when it comes time for algebra.

    My resolution this year has been to read online less (sorry) and read books more. I think I checked out more library books in six months than I did in the last 5 years. I considered it my personal readathon for sanity. (This summer, I read the Hunger Games trilogy in four days. I think I showered. Then I begged Christina to read them and promise she’d be my date to the movie so I wouldn’t have to pretend to be a teenage girl’s mom.)

  19. My 7 year old is voracious on her own. My 6 & 4 year olds share a room and I have the older read to the younger. They love it because they think they are staying up later, but really I put them to bed early…

    I try to read to them a little every week to have family time, but it’s not a perfected system by any means…

    I love Mo Willems in a total fangirl way. Knuffle Bunny is still my favorite.

  20. I’m lucky enough to have a houseful of readers:

    I would bet the reasons are that our coffee table is always piled high with books, we go to the library every Friday night when the school week ends, and the house rule is we all sit down to read together for 30 mins when it’s bedtime.

    I’d bet all my money on those reasons there.

  21. I loved your post and am so glad you brought up this subject! When my daughter was asked in school to name a family tradition in our house, she said reading!! I couldn’t have been more thrilled to hear those words. Books have always been an important part of our lives – there are books in every room, we read together and we talk about books every day. Now she even offers her opinions on my children’s book review website, sweet on books ( I’m so glad that we’ll have reading to share in the years ahead!

  22. Sometimes you put the child to bed and …. well he just isnt tired (he’s 4). That’s when he is allowed to “read” quietly in bed by himself for 10-15 minutes. He cant actually read yet of course, but he knows all his books so well, I have snuck in and seen him reading the books from memory. Staying up late, he feels the delicious thrill of Getting Away With Something, which I hope will inspire him to read to himself more someday.

    Loved, loved, loved this post.

  23. My daughter is 9 and is not a fan of reading. She loves being read to, just not reading for herself. What I find most fascinating is she will pick up a book and read to her 1 year old brother, actually she’ll read as many as he’ll listen to! That makes me happy:) One day she’ll realize reading can be fun and will choose to read, but right now she’d rather climb trees and listen to me read. We have an insane amount of books and I read every chance I get, so at least my kids are growing up seeing/hearing readers:)

  24. I grew up in a house filled to the brim with readers. For as long as I can remember, both of my parents were always juggling large numbers of books about any number of topics and in any number of languages. A book about economics in pre-revolutionary America? An art history tome written in Russian? A little Jane Austen stacked on top of a little Craig Childs? Check. Check. Check. Check. And for as long as I can remember, reading was always a huge part of my family’s life. We read books together, chapter by chapter, after dinner until bedtime. (People always ask what our family did without television – this is what we did. We read to each other and did handcrafts like crochet or knitting or tatting or whittling or just drew pictures or built card houses or whatever while we listened.) When we went to bed, my father always came back and told us bedtime stories and recited poems with us. Sometimes he would take a book he was reading and just summarize it for us and talk about the topics with us. We weren’t reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin when I was six or anything, but we certainly talked about it. Anyway, after that, my mother would come back and read a book or a chapter each to us.

    As I mentioned earlier in response to Fairly Odd Mother, those bedtime stories really made a lasting impression on me!

    Voracious reader that I am, my daughter is being raised in much the same way that I was. There are books everywhere in this house and I am constantly juggling two or three at a time. Donald and I read books out loud to each other in the evenings and we read books to Charlotte too. I have structured story-times twice a day with Charlotte (once a day on Library Day, when we hit up story-hour) (also once a day when we hit up story-hour at the arboretum or the aquarium). I do alot of story-stretchers with Charlotte too, and I try to organize the books we’re reading to her around themes that tie in with other parts of her life. When we read about pumpkins, for example, we had a miniature-pumpkin hunt in our yard and we visited the pumpkin patch and carved and painted pumpkins with friends, etc. When we read about farm animals, I took her to a working farm and then I took her to a farm animal rehabilitation center and we went to a heritage museum that had a working-animals exhibit.

    The truth is, though, that I think that the only part of all of that that matters is Charlotte being exposed to the idea that reading is enjoyable. That’s the cake. Everything else is just icing. I think it’s just as important for me to read to Charlotte as it is for me to play with her – kids learn alot from play too – and some days it’s more important for me to play with her and on other days it’s more important for me to read with her. It really depends. If I skip a day reading or if as an adult she only gets in one book a year, have I failed? No. As long as she truly enjoys that one book, and as long as she has the ability to mine books for information if she wants it, I would say I succeeded.

    1. Sarah – it’s official. I want to come to your house and have story time. And I wish I were as together as you are as a mother. I blame it on working full time, but I know that I could still do better.

  25. I’m not half the reader my daughters are–they are 9 and 10. They are obsessed with reading, and will read for hours at a time. Early on I got my hands on Jim Trealise’s book “The Read Aloud Handbook”, and because of that, I would read to them often.

    My husband and I are readers, but we are not walking around the house with books in our hands the way they are. I think what helped them develop a love for reading aside from my reading to them often was necessity. We never bought them any electronic games, and didn’t allow them to play games on the computer. TV was also limited, and I stayed away from movies which were adaptations from books. (Boy, I sound like a witch!). But it worked!

    1. I hear you! I’ve avoided Harry Potter the movie so far, hoping that they’d fall in love with Harry Potter, the book, in a few years.

      Although I did have no issue with Wizard of Oz, the movie, which did lead to a love for all the Oz books. So…what do I know.

  26. Reading through this thread makes me feel nostalgic. And sad.

    When my children were 3, 5, 8, and 11 I did all the things everyone else has been talking about — books at naptime, books at bedtime, books in their rooms, baskets of books all over the house, books in the car, books at the beach, books in their Easter baskets, books as gifts, character costumes at Halloween, their own library cards as soon as they could print their names…. All of those things, we did.

    I read to both girls at bedtime until they were 12 and 11 respectively — books they picked out, books I picked out, classics from my childhood, dreadful book series they fell in love with (did anyone else ever have an Animorphs fan?). Both of the girls became members of a Book Club at their elementary school that require inductees to have logged more than 500 nonfiction, Caldecott, Newbery, and classic children’s books.

    Now they are 14 and 18 , both of them straight-A students, and while they still do a lot of reading in school for their Lang/Lit and other classes, and in other contexts — for example, students are required to bring a book on Standardized Testing days so they can read if they finish early — I can’t remember the last time either of them read a book for pleasure outside of school. School has made book-hating non-readers of them both.

    My 14YO volunteered two days a week in the public library last summer, and never checked out a book. My mother-in-law gave my 18 YO the “Hunger Games” novels last Christmas, and she returned them for a store credit, sold the card to her father, and bought boots.

    I offer my best wishes to you and to your other commenters, for your children’s carefully nurtured love of reading to survive the mandatory reading in school of books that they do not enjoy, and the concomitant fun! creative! — but still graded, of course — assignments related to those books, not only book reports and essays, but posters, shadow boxes, board games, collages, songs, commercials, skits and other group projects, Powerpoint presentations, “Dress like Your Favorite Character” days, and on and on and on….

    1. Thank you so much for this comment Sophie. I think it’s a great reminder that 1. None of us should be so smug as to assume “we’ve raised readers,” when said readers are still 8, 4, 2 years old.

      And 2. This is not over yet! You may easily have a non-reader at 18 who rediscovers the joy again at 20.

      Heck, even if you didn’t raise teens who are reading at this very second, it seems like they’re smart, intellectually curious, and committed to their communities. That sounds pretty great to me.

      1. Sophie, do not despair. I was a very bookish child who, nevertheless, went through a ‘non-reading’ phase somewhere between 17 and 19. Once I got to college, I rediscovered my love of reading for pleasure, and haven’t stopped since. But I think that high school is a hard time to read for pleasure. The demands of the schoolwork are so intense and so much of it is busywork that steals time — time that could be spent reading! I think it will pass.

  27. I always wonder how the Kindle will affect this. Does taking paper books away take away any part of the “joy” from reading? We haven’t succumbed yet, but when you’re trying to cram so many books in a Manhattan apartment, man does that e-reader sound good. I’m curious what others think of what impact e-readers have on their kids vs. books.

    1. Great question. We write about this a lot at Cool Mom Tech (of course). My feeling overall is that there’s something wonderful and tactile about the books and I want my kids to have a love and appreciate for them. But what’s more important, for me at least, is the love and appreciation of reading. And if the iPad can open those doors, or provide more opportunities to read–like reading instead of gaming–then I’m all for it.

      I’d love to hear others’ thoughts though.

      1. eReaders are only another format.

        I have an eReader. I still buy “real” books.

        Sometimes, the eReader gives me access to books at a less expensive price.

        For children and adults with vision problems, eReaders allow them access to more books, magazines, newspapers because of the ability to enlarge font size.

        The ability to increase font size can also be helpful to kids who have other reading disabilities, allowing them to scan lines of text more easily.

        Also, some kids are intimidated by the sheer heft of a book with a lot of pages – and working at a bookstore, I can tell you that about 50% of kids will immediately turn down a book based on how thick it is or how small the print is, no matter how good the story or how nice the illustrations. An eReader is the same size. The same kind of tactile experience of a “real” book that prevents kids from opening is gone with an eReader. Sure, it’s the same amount of text, but packaging the story in a format with larger font and fewer words on a page is a psychological trick that can get more kids reading books they’d otherwise turn down.

        eReaders can give kids access to libraries across the state. They can also give kids access to free materials that are public domain.

        Most eReaders allow kids to touch on a word and bring up a collegiate dictionary definition. I know my kids are loathe to look up a word in a dictionary if it means too much breaking their stride.

        And while eReader books can’t be shared (much), if you have three kids all using eReaders, buying one copy of a book allows all three kids to read it at once. As well as mom and dad. So you can check up on exactly what Teen Paranormal Romance genre is all about. 😉

        And yes, I’ve met kid after kid who is now reading just because it’s a book on a gadget. So the bias can go both ways.

        After all, as much as we love the feel of paper and the heft of a book, what we really enjoy are the words we get lost in.

        I don’t know if eBooks will kill bookstores and paper books, or if the economic downturn and closing of all sorts of businesses finally made the eReader practical. Right now, however, it’s just another way to get at words. That’s always a good thing. 🙂

        1. Full disclosure – I work in a bookstore. Sometimes I’m selling eReaders. Sometimes I’m selling real books. I like both. I don’t push one over the other unless someone is telling me they really have problems reading font size.

        2. “After all, as much as we love the feel of paper and the heft of a book, what we really enjoy are the words we get lost in.”


          I so appreciate your perspective, Josette.

      2. I was a die hard book fan, hated the idea of an e-reader. That is, until i figured out that reading my iPad with one hand was A LOT easier than trying to maneuver a book with two hands while breastfeeding or rocking or patting or pacifying a baby. Not to mention quieter (sleeping babies have the hearing of damn ninjas). I do most of my reading on the iPad now.

        That being said, nothing can come close to replacing the smell of a book, the feel of the pages in your fingers, flipping to the last page for *just one little peek*.

    2. I have children’s books on my iPad and my kids look at them a lot when we are out and they want something to do. I was a late adopter of e-reading and never thought I would like it–now I carry nearly 100 books on my iPad for myself and my kids and they see that technology just isn’t about playing games but also about learning and reading and that is important. Too often technology is about games and enjoyment–not about enrichment.

      1. My girls are older – 12 and 15. They have iPhones (don’t judge) and both have the Kindle App. Seriously, one of the best things ever.

        My 15 year old often has to hang out 2 hours after school, sometimes she walks across the street to the gym to work out. Her school does not have lockers and her backpack weighs over 30 pounds on any given day. She is a voracious reader, so having almost any book in the world available with a couple of clicks is fantastic!! Purchases show up on my account, so I know exactly what she buys. We have discussed the rules for online purchases, and usually talk about them before hand. (For example, when book three of a series she loves came out the same week as a big history test, she decided to wait until after the test to buy it – I was very proud of her mature choice!)

        In line with the above comments about “raising readers” … where my 15 yo constantly has a book in her hand, my 12 yo is not so interested. She is a techie kid … she would much rather play doodlejump or angry birds. she also loves to shop online, researches all her school work online, and even does Math homework online every week.

        Last year her history teacher has the students script and record a podcast instead of doing a traditional writing assignment. She is growing up in a very different world than I did.

        We have a wall of books at home, hubby and I love to read, but with her it has been a challenge to find stuff she is interested in reading. Frankly – she wants to read about girls her age going through the things she is going through and the number of choices is very small. That is a whole rant for another post, though.

        Pulling a random book off the shelf at a book store has not been successful for her (although we do have a FANTASTIC locally owned book store with a wonderful staff, wish we could get there every week, but unfortunately it is only every couple of months). For her, the Kindle app has been great because she can read all the reivews before buying a book.

        This week she had to choose a book for her book report. We used amazon to bring up a bunch of books on Saturday, narrowed it down on Sunday. I finally purchsed a kindle book (Side Effects by Amy Goldman Koss) this morning while she put on her shoes. She had it downloaded to her phone and was well into chapter 2 before we got to school.

        I don’t have to worry about her leaving it at home, or at school, because I know her phone is always with her. AND she even knows how to highlight so she can go back to the right parts when it is time to write her report.

        Now — even though we have all this tech in the house, we still love books. We all read the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan and I love seeing those books on the shelf knowing that each person in the house carried them around. We met Mr. Riordan (at the aforementioned LBS) and one of our hardcover books is signed. His second in the Olympians series came out recently and I picked up the hardcover over the weekend. I can’t wait for everyone in the house to read it, just like the others.

        We could have bought it on Kindle and shared it, too. But then I wouldn’t get to look at it with the others.


        1. Thanks for this Jen. A friend of mine with a highschool-aged daughter has a similar story. The phone is with her, and thus, so are the books. I think that’s wonderful!

    3. Well, my Kindle hasn’t destroyed my love of reading! If anything, it has made it stronger, because it allows me to read in situations where I couldn’t before- either because I didn’t have a book with me or because I was, say, nursing a newborn and couldn’t hold a hardcover one handed.

      I’ll be trying this out with my girls (ages 4 and 2) soon, when my new Kindle Fire shows up. The 4 year old has always loved books and being read to, and is now learning how to read on her own (which is presenting some interesting challenges- we have a house full of kids books, but could only find four that were at the right level for her to read on her own). The 2 year old is a little less into books, but still will sit still for a few books at bedtime most nights. I’m guessing that the Kindle will be more intriguing for awhile, and then the novelty will wear off and it will be down to the same things that hold their attention in print books- the story and the pictures. But I intend to write about the experience when the time comes, so I guess you could check back with me in about a month and see what I think.

      I suspect, though, that it is like all technology- useful in the right dose, and the trick is finding that dose.

  28. We also follow the 2 books per kid per night policy, where book might be defined to something shorter if the child picks a chapter book or something similarly long. And toy catalogs that arrive in the mail are fair game, so most nights 1 “book” = a few pages of the lego catalog. At the moment, Noah is getting a bonus reading from the first Harry Potter book, although now that we are near the end, he is finding it “too scary,” so we may switch to something else.

    The kids’ school has recently launched a “read to your kids for 15 minutes/day and keep a weekly log” program. The sheet they sent home made us laugh — we burned through it and started writing on the margins in 10 days.

  29. On this subject we teach by example : both the hubs and I adore books (we have over 500) and the kids got the bug from us. I read to them everyday and the eldest just started ‘reading’ books to the younger sister and stuffed animals.

  30. I will NEVER ever own a kindle/Nook or reading contraption. I NEED books-actual books in my hands. I believe in paying it forward when it comes to books. I love to read and when I finish a book I give it to a friend who I know will love it too and I tell her to pas sit on to someone she thinks will love it. I am NEVER w/o a book…I keep a few in my car and one in my gigantic purse b/c that’s how I roll. My kids are very tech oriented but they love real books too!

  31. I grew up in a house with books stacked on any and every surface flat enough to hold them. I got books as gifts, I hoarded them, I had entire collections that would sit proudly on my bookshelf after I’d devoured them. When I was pregnant, I read aloud to my belly. My daughter’s second or third word was “book”. It fills me with joy when she bypasses all the flashy toys at her disposal, and picks up a book instead.

    As parents, one of the most important things we can do for (and with) our children is read with them (IMHO). I look forward to sharing with my daughter all favorites, and helping her find her own.

  32. I am a complete neophyte in the realm of social media, but I have had the good fortune of finding mom101. I saw Liz’s tweet and thought I would add a comment here.

    I love books and I love stories. I love paper and I love technology. I think that as the tablet wars carry on and there is a deflationary effect on the price of digital content, physical books will become more valuable.

    What is interesting to consider is the concept of ownership and keepsakes in a digital cloud based world. What we hold onto and what we want to hold in our hands is a premium emotional experience and the highest emotional value. we want to touch the analogue world and have it remembered it as such.

    Books, kids books in particularly, will always have a very high value to us, to our families, to our children.

  33. My kids (7 YO son and 3 YO daughter) definitely love to read (though, I guess, really, my daughter can’t read yet — but she does love to leaf through books we’ve read together — she also likes to “read” the stories out loud — or rather from memory. Love it.). I also love to walk into the living room and see them just sitting quietly on the couch and reading (or “reading”) to themselves. We also read books as part of our bedtime routine (started when they were teeny tiny babies). And I make a habit of buying books as presents (or just because — because I love having books around for them to read). We also make regular trips to the library.

    Actually, because of them I’ve started reading more. I got out of the habit for a long time — burned out from required reading lists — reading wasn’t “fun” anymore. But now I pick up books at the library, too. Just for me.

  34. My “strategy” (whatever that means) is to let them read whatever interests them, whenever they want. Comic books, Pokemon cards, cereal boxes, insipid My Little Pony books, the newspaper funnies, street signs, eBay, etc. We also have tons of books sitting around, and I’m always going to the library and bringing stuff home to leave on the coffee table. I try to show enthusiasm without framing reading as something “good for them.” It’s fun, it’s exciting, it’s a doorway to riches, but it’s not the Holy Grail of Things You Should Do.

    1. That’s a great strategy. And smart.

      I can’t tell you how many times parents come into the bookstore complaining that their Johnny just won’t read, and Johnny is standing there waving a manga or a sports magazine at them, begging to have it, and mom or dad says, “Oh NO. NO THAT. Go get a REAL book.”

      My opinion is that especially as kids get into school, they have to do so much reading that they don’t want to do. On their off time, let them read what they want. The goal is to keep them reading. And yes, I’ll even okay the Twilight series – which I think is just horrible – because it’s like the Wimpy Kid series for teen girls. A lot of girls saying “this is the first book I’ve read that I didn’t have to read.”

  35. Being a huge reader, I still love the actual book – nothing like soaking in a hot tub with a divine book (for me). I do use the kindle app on the iPad when the mood strikes or when I am traveling — it is very convenient when you cannot sleep in a hotel and want to download a book.

    My sons read – they abhor the classics, but they read what strikes them as interesting ..I guess that is all that I can hope for at this point.

    I do think that the ereader is the way reading will continue to evolve and I just think that is what will happen simply because –

    Because we are evolving — it is kind of like our kids do not write rough drafts in long hand and then type them anymore….they go right to microsoft word. Our kids also do their group projects on google docs and one 6th grade English teacher speculated that cursive handwriting is like a foreign language….learning/reading/communicating are all constantly changing.

    So, if they read on ereaders – they are reading which is better than not.

  36. Reading is so important at any stage of life. I started reading to my kids even before they were born and we always make time for it now. I love hearing my 5 year old read stories to me and hearing the joy in his voice as the story moves on. It is great for children to understand that reading is more important that video games or the ipod.

  37. I’m thankful that my two-year old loves books. My mother is a career librarian and passed on to all of us kids a love of reading. I’m trying to do the same for my son. He has his own little shelf of books in his room and has amassed quite the collection. Right now “Moo, Baa, La la la” “Peek a Who” and Elmo’s “I can do it myself” are on heavy rotation. We have a nightly ritual of dinner, bath, cup of milk followed by at least 68 stories – just joking. I’ll never stop because I love the look on his face when he “reads” along with me or names things he sees on the page. I can’t wait til his old enough for us to read all of the Harry Potter books for his bed time.

    Sadly, since I had my son, I find my own reading has diminished. I miss it so much. I’ve recommitted to reading at least one book a month because I forgot how much it replenishes my spirit. Right now I’m reading the new Steve Jobs biography and I am enthralled. How could I forget just how cool reading really is?

  38. I’m not sure kids (or adults) can spend too much time with books. Good books. I’m so glad that Thalia is already engrossed and itching for one more chapter. I remember getting caught with my flashlight under the covers trying to finish one more chapter of Cam Jansen or the Boxcar Children. My mother has since told me it was the hardest time to be upset, stopping a child from reading. Hopefully I’ll have to do the same.

  39. this may be the perfect place to gush, just for a second…MY 5 YEAR OLD READ 2 WHOLE BOOKS TO MY 3 YEAR OLD BEFORE BED TONIGHT! It was the most beautiful and most bittersweet moment I’ve had in awhile. I guess we’ll jump start the early decision college admissions process tomorrow…

    1. Gush away Kami. It’s one of the great joys in my life, to overhear Thalia reading books to Sage. Congrats!

  40. When I was 13, I went to summer camp and I remember that we had opportunities, we’ll call them, to win cards so that at the end of the two week stint we could earn our red bandana for starters, and then the blue bandana for more advanced campers. I wanted both. In two weeks. Which meant I was flying through that camp like a whirling dervish-archery anyone? Outdoor living-sure i’ll feed a snake a comotose mouse! I hate waterskiing but I’ll do it for the card! Yes I’ll jump from a twenty foot pole and catch a trapeze! Of course!

    I look back on it with a little embarrassment, really, and wish I’d focused a little more on camp rather than on winning. But I do like to win, so there’s that. Thalia and I would probably get along swimmingly.

    I used to teach Children’s Literature and Young Adult Literature at Clemson University, so these genres are ones that I value and defend and promote at any opportunity. Which is what you’ve just done by writing this post, so thank you.

  41. We do books before bed every night…and yes there are nights when I pick REALLY SHORT books like a Sandra Boynton instead of “Make Way for Ducklings” for Elanor (our 3 year old), but we do it every day.

    But then I’m a voracious reader. I LIVE for the kindle app…until I had my newborn and started using my baby tracker app (I’d never remember which boob nursed last…I can barely remember if I’ve showered this week) a few weeks ago, the kindle app was hands down my most used app. I burn through books as fast as 5 minutes of pee time + 1 minute of elevator transit time + 2 minutes before nursery school pick up will allow (and every minute I can manage while also nursing…now that’s my favorite use of both apps!).

    I’m the mom who whines that her 3 year old isn’t going to be ready for junie b or ramona anytime soon.

    Although, to be totally honest…I look forward to her being old enough to read to herself. That way, we can both get some reading time in.

  42. We have read out loud to our kids since they were chewing on the books.

    One of the big things that engages my kids is me using accents for the characters. I’m a frustrated actress, I guess, and I LOVE to invent different voices and accents for the characters in their books. From Italian for Strega Nona to American Southern for Moon Over Manifest (Girl Child’s current read – big thumbs up) – it sparks their imagination, helps them draw the character in their minds, build the scenery, and use a voice in their head when they are reading on their own.

    And Mo Willems rocks. Boy’s favorite is Don’t Let The Pigeon Stay Up Late. You should see our pretend yawn on that one. 🙂

  43. I love to read. One of my favorite books to read is the Harry Potter series or the Twilight series books. One thing I think that I like about it so much is that I always seem to get better sleep when I read. It clears my mind and I seem to get a good nights rest, most times falling asleep while reading.

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