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THE Most Influential Person in a Child's Reading Life

Updated: Nov 4, 2019

I recently read an interesting study where researchers interviewed a variety of students to find out what they said about what motivates them to read. The answer to this question convicted, intrigued, and wow'ed me as a mother and a teacher: "Who gets you interested in and excited about reading?" The most common answer was mother - not teacher, father, grandparents, older siblings, peers - the answer was that their mother influenced them most!

To be sure there were children who said their teacher, father, etc. but the most common answer should be convicting for every mother reading this. The influence we, as mothers, have on our children is far more reaching than we could ever realize.

I recently had a mother ask me, "How do I motivate my child to read when I don't even enjoy reading myself?" My simple answer is, you can't. You cannot convince your child that reading is valuable if you do not actually believe it yourself. Because what you do matters far more than what you say. So my question to that mom is: why don't you enjoy reading? I would tackle that problem in your life first by helping you see where gaps in your reading education might be or helping you set and accomplish realistic goals. But you are the biggest influencer in your reader's life and hopefully I don't have to spend a lot of time convincing you how important it is for you to model the behavior you want to see in your child!

What they hear from you matters.

What do you believe about reading? Is it a valuable use of time? What do you say to others about reading? (Because you know they're listening.) Do you talk to others or to your children about what you read? Start by valuing reading by changing what you say about reading.

What they see from you matters.

Do you set aside time every day to read with your kids? We have time in our day where I read to them, that we read together, and then they read alone. Typically they are always asking for more time! The more that you do something with them and the more that you model the behavior that you want from your child, they more likely they are to do it. For example, when my little Ele was in her terrible two's she did not want to sit down and read together. BUT once she saw how much fun Brielle and I were having, she eventually wanted to join. Are you enthusiastic about what you're reading? Can they hear it in your voice inflection as you read? (Haha, even after the 100th time of reading it?) Do you celebrate reading in your home? Do you have a comfy spot you enjoy reading? Have you established a spot in your home that your children enjoy reading?

What you say reveals what you believe about reading and what you do reveals that you actually believe what you say. It is vitally important, therefore, to set aside time in your day-to-day busy, crazy life to rest and read. It is amazing to me how the two go hand in hand. Sometimes it's a battle to follow through with this routine, but ten times out of ten I am beyond thankful we did - and my kids are too. I hope that this brief post inspires you to make changes or to keep doing what you're doing, because what you're doing in regards to reading matters for your little learner.

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