This article appears in the February edition of 400 Life magazine.
Reading has been an important part of my life for as long as I can remember. My mother and I would make frequent trips to our local library and I could spend hours browsing and reading among the stacks. In fact, when I go home to New Jersey, I still visit that library every time.
When I started my own family, reading remained a huge part of my life and it seems that love has transferred to my three children.
Friends and other parents will often ask me how I helped my children become readers and the honest answer is that I don’t have an answer! (‘Readers’ in this context means they love and seek opportunities to read. The outstanding Forsyth County Schools gets all the credit for my children’s ability to read.)
However, I am asked this question enough that I started to do some reading on the topic, and I have found three book selections that address the importance of reading and providing real-world steps to help any adult foster and cultivate the love of reading in children of all ages.
How to Raise a Reader
By Pamela Paul and Maria Russo
How to Raise a Reader by Pamela Paul and Maria Russo is an excellent place to start and would make a wonderful gift for a new parent. In this book, Paul and Russo, editors of the New York Times Book Review, look at the developmental stages of childhood and provide tips to encourage a love of reading, pitfalls to avoid, and book recommendations for each stage. This book includes colorful illustrations and is written in a straight-forward way that will not intimidate an adult seeking suggestions for the children in their life. The authors provide ideas that address behaviors of the adults, as well as the children, to raise a life-long reader.
Reader, Come Home
By Maryanne Wolf
Maryanne Wolf is an authority on the neuroscience of reading. She has previously researched and written on the changes that occur within the brain as we learn to read and as we remain life-long readers. In her latest offering, Reader, Come Home, Wolf pens letters to readers on the perils and opportunities associated with reading in the digital age. She incorporates findings from her ongoing research, personal anecdotes and calls to action. This book is written for those interested in the cognitive side of reading and the impact of technology on the brain. Dedicated readers, educators, and those who are scientifically minded will find a plethora of material to consider.
The Enchanted Hour
By Meghan Cox Gurdon
In her 2019 publication, The Enchanted Hour, Meghan Cox Gurdon provides a reading experience that differs greatly from other books on this topic. Cox Gurdon, a Wall Street Journal columnist, writes about the importance of reading aloud to children (and adults) with such strong prose that you will feel like you are reading a well written novel. She examines the act of reading aloud, focusing on the importance of hearing the voice of another telling a shared story. Cox Gurdon weaves together scientific research, personal stories, and practical advice to create an overwhelming argument in favor of reading aloud from birth through old age.
Becky Cahill is a career educator and an avid reader. She reads extensively in her free time and tracks her favorites (and those that aren’t even close) on her blog at tobereadlist.home.blog. Becky is the host of ‘Read It or Leave It!’ a weekly reading podcast available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.