5 Ways to Be a Family Who Reads

Reading as a family
Category: Bookbug

I love reading. I am a happy and motivated reader but it was no given that I could pass my love onto my kids.  After six years, I take great pride in my family’s love of books. Here are my tips for being a family who reads.

1. Be the example

My husband and I read. We often curl up at the end of the day and with the music on, a glass of wine or a pot of tea and a packet of hobnobs, we pick up our books on the go. We now have three active wee kids and together we make time to read our books, in the lull of the afternoon; after swimming, after riding bikes, after playing out, after school. We sit amongst the baskets and piles of books and show our children how lovely it is to read. We show our kids that we all enjoy the pleasure of reading.  ‘Mummy and Daddy love reading’ is important to them. It’s not about school or about work, it’s about fun!

2. Make reading a special time

We have a story corner in the boys' bedroom. We have some big cushions and a bookcase. We curl up at night, or when we want a cuddle and we read what they choose. We have special story snacks. We listen to books on tape. We read books about space and we read stories about anything and everything. This special, cosy place is just for reading. Now, my eldest son is six and can read so he takes his wee brother and sister to the story corner with his arm around them and reads to them books they choose. Making a special place soon becomes a special place.  

3. Take their lead

We read books about space, otters, trucks and mega machines. We read Mr Benn and we read books about pirates. We have put back Iron Man and The Little Prince and other loved books but it is not about me, it’s about what excites them and I follow their lead. Last year, my eldest son fell out of love with stories and we replaced 'Once Upon a Time' with 'How To' and 'Ten facts About…' but he was happy and he was reading. Stories are now back but they have to fight for space, however, we have just discovered the Star Wars DK readers series and we are off again. 

4. Story time, all the time

The other thing we do is bring storytelling and imagination into everything. We have trees in the wood that whisper stories to us. We make up stories in Asda and we tell great tales about the first boy to ride his bike or what happened to the prince who never ate his peas. Storytelling is part of how we make sense of the world. Our imagination gets regular work outs and as they get older all of our silly play will help them imagine and play in the world.  At the very least, it leads to great readers.

5. Have family favourites

To survive the endless books on mega machines, and motorbikes and the endless lists of Star Wars Characters we have our family favourites. Our special books, books we bring out with ceremony and know inside out. We have Shirley Hughes, we have Julia Donaldson, we have Roald Dahl, we have Dr Seuss. We have family books for family time, snuggled up reading with singsong voices. We have books that in years to come will only need to be held, only need their titles said aloud to have us all back in each other’s arms. To remind our children when they are big and without us that they were loved, that they are a family and they can find comfort in stories and imagination.  

Hannah Lavery

Hannah is a writer based in Dunbar. Hannah is the Creative Director of The Dunbar Festival of Words, founding member of Appletree Writers and founder and Director of Story Emporium, a story workshop for primary aged children. Hannah's first collection of short stories, Kicked From The Inside, was recently published by Appletree Writers Press.