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How To Cultivate a "Book-Loving" Home

I love to read. I love getting sucked into a good story, where the characters become my friend. (You can read about my other quirky book habits here). Kyle also loves to read. And while I love a good story, he loves to learn and prefers reading non-fiction over fiction (although he does like to read some fiction). 

Because we both love to read so much, it makes sense that we would want our kids to love it too. What has come as a bit of a surprise is recognizing that some of our kids are more naturally inclined to love reading, while others need a little more encouragement to read. Because of this, we have discovered some ways we can create an environment that will naturally help cultivate a love for reading. 

1. Have books readily available in your home.  

From a young age, we wanted our kids to be able to "experience" books. To be able to SEE books on shelves and buckets, to FEEL books, to SMELL books, to HEAR books, and to even taste books (not every book, but I'm specifically thinking of the baby books that crinkle and have the plastic teething corners). 

2. Frequent the Library

I love going to the library. It's like getting to walk in Barnes and Noble and walk out with whatever books you want for free! But I'll be honest, I don't always love going to the library with my kids. It is hard work keeping them quiet. But, I think its worth it and they LOVE it! It's a way that you can make books fun because you are making an event out of it. Most public libraries have story time and fun events. 

Often times, I will just go and fill up our library bag with new books to surprise the kids with. It helps my kids to be able to "have" new books frequently. 

3. Read out loud to your kids (or over them) (or around them).

Laura Kate was born a reader. It is her very favorite thing to do since she was TINY. At age two she memorized her first entire book (Hop On Pop) and by three was was actually reading. We did not really "teach" her to read. We just read with her and to her A LOT. And because it was her favorite activity, she asked to do it continually, and most of the time we obliged. She would also just sit and look at books by herself for very long periods of time.

My boys have been VERY VERY VERY different.  Shepherd in particular. He HATED to sit still and read books. In fact, only in the past year or so has he started to initiate any interest in books. Because of that, we have had to get creative with him when it came to reading. So I would read to him whenever he was confined to his high chair, and I would read over him while he played in the same room as him. Kyle has always had better luck with getting Shepherd to sit still and read with him (most likely because Kyle can do the voices and it is morning entertaining). 

But regardless of our polar opposite kids, we really do try to make it a priority to read with them every day. 

4. Ask for books as gifts (Give books as gifts)

When I was pregnant with LK, my girlfriends threw me a "book shower" and everyone gifted me their favorite children's books to have for Laura Kate. It was one of my most favorite memories and one of the most special events I have had in my life. So literally before my kids were even born, we have had the mentality that books make the best gifts. 

So when Grammy asks for Christmas or Birthday ideas, books are ALWAYS a good idea! We give our kids a new book both for Birthdays and Christmas. 

5. Encourage your kids to read to each other

I love that Laura Kate can read to the boys, and I'm not the only one. They love it when she reads to them! As they boys start learning to read, I'm excited to explore what this could look like even more with reading books together as a family. 

6. Make the books come alive

There is no question that Kyle Wiley is the best read-out-louder in this house. His voices trump any sweet snuggles and patient reading I have to offer. He is a hot commodity and our children LOVE IT when he reads to them. Because his different voices make the characters come alive. 

I have found that anything we can do to make the books be more than just words on a page, but to be something they can truly experience, helps them love to read even more. Like one day when we had friends over and I decided it was Ladybug Girl and the Bug Squad Day. We made cupcakes like in the book, we went on a nature walk, we painted rocks to look like lady bugs and we watched the play on YouTube. They all LOVED it... ESPECIALLY Shepherd. 

7. Read more than you watch TV

This is a goal we have had since we got married. It's a good way to keep screen time in check and encourage their imaginations to be turned on by reading! 

I'll be honest though, there are times this is so much easier said than done. Because my boys are at the age that reading requires so much of our guidance, it means more work than just turning on a show. 

8. Choose books that interest them, or that mimic real life events

Whenever we added siblings, some of our favorite books were the Big Sister/Big Brother books.

When LK was asked to be a flower girl in my cousin's wedding, my cousin Ashley mailed her a book about flower girls... it was a HUGE HIT!

One day around Mother's Day, LK came home from the library with these two books that made my day!

Fischer loves to read books about food. Particularly PIZZA since it's his favorite! He also likes to read books about cars and trucks. (While he does enjoy reading more frequently than Shepherd, his attention span is still short so we try to stick to shorter books).

9. Have (special) designated reading areas 

I think it's really fun to have special reading nooks or fun chairs to read in. I have tried to make room for reading places in most rooms in the house. It can be as little as a pillow on the ground or as elaborate as a decorated closet turned nook. Also, I think it's fun for special occasions to have temporary reading nooks by building forts or setting up a tent inside your house. 

10. Have designated reading times

When Laura Kate was about 2, we needed a way to help her wind down for bed so we instituted independent reading time for her in her bed 20-30 minutes before bedtime. Even though she couldn't read yet, she would still look at picture books. This is something we have continued and still try to do even with the boys to this day and even Shepherd looks forward to it (honestly, I think he thinks it postpones bedtime - which it doesn't because we back up the time in front of bedtime - but hey, whatever works, man). 

11. Read, Yourself

Hopefully this is a no brainer, but I think it's important model reading for your kids. My kids know that I love to read. They know I love to smell books (and they giggle at me) and they know I think that sometimes book character make the best friends. 

 Well, if you didn't know before this post, you most certainly know now that the Wileys love to read! What are some things you do in your family to cultivate a love for books?

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