I have a close friend whose children are roughly the same ages as mine (hers are 2 and 4; mine are 3, 3, and 4). She is growing increasingly worried that she won’t be able to communicate a love of reading to her sons and, if she chooses to homeschool, won’t be able to teach them to read well. She was not a good reader growing up and feels rather insecure about the whole endeavor.

Communicating a love of reading to children is one of the single most important “loves” we can pass on (of course, we are also trying to communicate our love for our Savior–sometimes these two endeavors work hand in hand). So, what is a person like my friend to do?
The NUMBER 1 thing you can do to inculcate a love of reading in your children is to…
READ TO YOUR CHILDREN.
The NUMBER 1 thing you can do to help teach your children to read is to…
READ TO YOUR CHILDREN.
That’s it, folks. There is no curriculum you “must” follow, no prescribed list of books you “must” read. Simply do it (see here for more info if you’re in doubt). Go to the library and pick out some books (your librarians are usually quite helpful folks–after all, they wouldn’t be librarians if they weren’t interested in the same goal!).
Go to library story time. Read your own books when your children are watching. Listen to audiobooks in the car–even driving around town, you’ll find plenty of time to listen to Winnie-the-Pooh, Mary Poppins, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Charlotte’s Web, etc. See here for more ideas about reading aloud to children.
When is the best time of day to read to your children? Whenever it suits you! After breakfast, before naptime, after playing outside, before dinner, before bed… I even read to my children during lunch for a while–they were a captive audience since they were all strapped into their booster seats. Why not?
What should you read? There are better books than others, but you will learn that as you go. A good rule of thumb is to start with books you remember loving as a child. Chances are, those classics are still around:
  • Frog and Toad books
  • Dr. Seuss
  • Amelia Bedelia
  • Mother Goose
  • Charlotte’s Web
If you like guides (I, as an avid bibliophile, truly enjoy perusing lists of books), then here are a few places to start:
  • Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt (Hunt also has an outstanding section on what it means to read as a Christian, why books are important, and so forth.)
  • Books Children Love by Elizabeth Wilson (one of the strengths of this book is its many nonfiction lists/recommendations for children)
  • The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease (full of great read aloud info and resources)
  • Choosing Books for Children: A Commonsense Guide by Betsy Hearne
  • Lists online help with identifying recent “greats” (search big libraries’ websites, like the New York Public Library, and other sites such as the ALA website, 2009 Notable Books–ALA, 2010 Notable Books–ALA, School Library Journal, Hedgehog Books, and others)*
*It’s especially important to remember that not all people who make lists of noteworthy children’s books have the same priorities when it comes to values, choices, and similar issues. Read the lists with a discerning eye; skim books before checking them out from a library.
Happy Reading! Make good use of the summer ahead!!
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