I participate in a group called the Yahoo! Motherboard, which is a fantastic group of mom bloggers who contribute posts to Yahoo! each month on topics relating to parenting. This month, Yahoo! asked us about whether we, as moms, impose our own childhood dreams on our kids, and how we inspire them to have their own dreams. I thought I'd write about reading, and how I try to instill the same love of reading in my daughters that I had at their age, and still have today.
The first step is simply to surround them with books. Those piles of books all over my house – the mishmash of review copies, used book sale finds, and library books? Well, those piles exist in the girls' room too. Some of them are books I loved as a kid, some of them are series books I've inherited from parents of older kids, and some are books that the girls have picked out from the Scholastic catalog that comes home once a month. I try not to impose my taste on them; if there's a book that catches their fancy, I try to make it available to them even it doesn't look interesting to me. (I do draw the line on books about actresses on Disney teen sitcoms!) I keep a basket of books for each girl in a prominent spot in the house so that she can read when she comes home from school, and they help pick out the books that go in the baskets.
My reasoning is… they'll grow to love reading even more if they do it on their own terms. I never want reading to be a chore; I want it to be that same delicious escape for them that it is for me.
I also started a Mother-Daughter book club with 9 other girls and their moms. The book club has showed the girls that reading can be social and fun – they've relayed conversations to me that they've had about the monthly read on the playground with their fellow book club members – weeks before we're actually scheduled to meet. And the meetings themselves are fun, with activities and snacks to go along with the discussion.
I have also learned that the books that I loved may not necessarily be the books that they will love. We read my childhood fave Eloise last month, and frankly, my daughters were bored with it. It's a bit dated, and I think they just didn't get it.
Finally, I hope that the fact that I am always reading will inspire them as well. I tell them about the books I am reading and whether I like them or not, and we analyze the covers and figure out where on the bookshelves they will go once I am done. Teach by example, no?
So far, it looks as though I have succeeded – both girls enjoy reading (perhaps one more than the other… for now), and actively seek out books. One has expressed an interest in reading the Harry Potter books with me (which I haven't read yet), and I look forward to seeing how they will broaden my own reading horizons in the years ahead.