My children are finally discovering for themselves, at ages 14 and 11, the pleasure of losing themselves in a book. I still read a novel to them at bedtime, as it’s a great family bonding activity, and we still have audio books for the car, but along the way I have also invested in books that peak their interests. TLC has all the books and all the series of 39 Clues, and has recently started to read his own way through them (we’ve previously read through them and listened to them a number of times). It’s such a joy and privilege for me to watch him discover the joy of reading for himself. It’s a new experience for me to need to tell him to put the book away for sleeping, chores, conversation, etc., but I really like it.
I’m an avid reader. Since the earliest I can remember, I have always had my nose in a book. My mom was constantly trying to get me out of my books to participate in activities. To be perfectly honest, I don’t really understand how people cannot enjoy reading; it’s one of my greatest pleasures and passions. I love getting lost in someone else’s story. I used to despair that my children struggled to learn how to read — they both learned how to read late, ages 8 and 9 — yet both have developed a love of books and stories. It turned out they both have reading difficulties, likely dyslexia. In my concern, I shared my love of reading with them. Along the way, I’ve learned it’s not essential for our children to actually read for themselves, they can develop a love of reading and books through us. I am convinced that if I had pushed them to read for reading’s sake earlier, they would not now be discovering the joy of reading for themselves.
Since they were very young, I have read aloud to them, and not just childhood books like Dr. Seuss. (Though there were plenty of those!! They are very fun!) We read the Chronicles of Narnia when they were just 7 and ;, there are many other novels suitable to children. In addition to reading aloud to them, I also invested in audio books, often borrowing them from the library. We traveled the world and explored lives while driving around the city or on road trips to grandparents and/or friends. We have read classics, modern literature, novels, true stories, fictional recreations based on history/Biblical stories, and more. We’ve read and listened to books that were my interests, as well as books of their choosing. We’ve come across books none of us enjoyed, and we’ve been pleasantly surprised with books we came to love unexpectedly.
I want to encourage you if you have a late reader. Your children can still discover a love of reading; you can give it to them with patience, determination, and a little creativity. I’ve had my children tell me they don’t like books, and I can remind them they do, just maybe not reading for themselves yet. They love the stories books bring them! There is more than one way to enjoy books. I’m already seeing the fruits of that knowledge. They know they can listen to a book, they know they can read one. They’ve discovered a joy of books as a family activity, and, now, finally, are discovering the pleasure of reading for themselves.