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How to cultivate a love of reading in your home

by | Jul 15, 2013 | Books and Reading, Homeschooling

Full bookcases in kids' rooms, family bookstore outings, and a homemade reading tree help cultivate a love for reading.

By Daniella Dautrich. This post contains affiliate links. Read our full disclosure policy.

When your kids open a book, do they find a dull and lifeless heap of words? Or, do they see a portal to new ideas and creative adventures? As a homeschooling parent, one of the best gifts you can impart to your children is a genuine love of reading.

There are so many ways to do this, from building a strong reading foundation to working on reading skills. Today, let’s explore even more ideas for cultivating a lifelong love of reading.

A Child’s Bookcase

When my brother and I were young, our parents gave each of us a tall bookcase for our bedrooms. Mine was clean white particleboard. It had a middle shelf for chapter books, a lower shelf for picture books, and room to spare for dolls and knickknacks. Over time, my stacks of fiction, poetry, and reference books grew, while toys were quietly donated or packed away.

I grew up believing that bookcases—and book collections that never stopped growing—were part of normal family life. Just imagine my surprise when I babysat in homes where a few toddler board books and scattered sci-fi novels were the only books around! To this day, shelves full of biographies and classics mean home to me. I take pride in these treasures and know it all started with my very own bookcase. {Thanks, Mom and Dad!}

Bookstore Outings

Our family loved to visit bookstores, where we spent hours on end. These trips might have a stated purpose (to buy new journals or shop for birthday gifts), or they might be spur-of-the-moment capstones to special restaurant dinners. My parents would buy their coffees, and I would dart straight back to the enchanted corners of the children’s section.

Those timeless hours let me fall in love with books over and over again. Before I had laptop computers and Amazon wish lists, I always knew exactly which book or paper doll set I wanted for Christmas. I could choose just the right paperback to buy for a friend’s birthday. I had seen it, touched it, and read it in the bookstore.

The Reading Tree

You can never do too much to instill a love of reading in a child. One year, my mom made a “reading tree” by transforming a 3- by 4-foot bulletin board into an impressive piece of fall foliage. Crumpled brown paper, pinned and stapled in place, became a tree trunk and branches. Paper leaves, neatly cut and stacked, stood at the ready. Whenever my brother or I read a new book, we could add a leaf to the Reading Tree.

You can contribute to your children’s love of reading with an autumn-inspired family reading tree of your own!

  • Cut out green, red, orange, and yellow leaves from a free printable template.
  • Explain to your children which books will count for the reading tree and which books won’t. For example: “Only books at or above your grade level. Textbooks don’t count.”
  • When your child finishes reading a book, ask them to write the title and author’s name on a leaf. It can be fun to assign a specific leaf or marker color to each child, but they can also add their initials.
  • As your child’s reading skills soar, your homemade reading tree will soon be filled with beautiful leaves!

Daniella Dautrich is a WriteShop alumna and a graduate of Hillsdale College. She and her husband have a beautiful little daughter. They fill their home with books on writing, literature, and computer science.