You may have noticed the motherly theme we have going on this month. So far we’ve talked about the good mums in literature, the bad book mums, juggling motherhood and writing, mums who beta read and there’s a whole bunch more still to come. When we decided on the theme my first thought was for my own mother. You see, I have my mum to thank for my love of reading. From a very young age she taught me not only to treasure books, but the power of the written word. Reading was always encouraged, praised even, and writing was important too. I remember her telling me as a young girl that once written down, words had the power to move people forever.
Now, as a mother of three, I hope that I am nurturing my children into a love of literature. With two of the three already avid readers, I think maybe it’s working.
CC0 Public Domain (Pixaby)
Here’s how we approach books in my house.
- From babyhood we included a story in the bedtime routine. When the children were young I read to them, but now the older two like to read to themselves every night before bed. My eldest even complains that she can’t fall asleep without reading first.
- There has always been a ready supply of books. Yes, there are precious books that were kept out of reach when they were at the ripping out pages age, but there was also a bookcase full of plastic and board books that they could ransack whenever they liked. Even now there is a family bookcase that anyone is free to read from.
- As soon as they were old enough, we talked about respecting our books (and toys too). They were to be treated with care, so that we could enjoy them over and again. Each child not only shares the family bookcase, but has a special shelf in their room for their own precious favourites.
- Never tell them not to read. Sure, we need balance in our lives, but if either of my two bigger kids chooses to hole themselves up in their rooms all day because they’re reading a book and can’t stop until they reach the end, we let them. There’s always tomorrow for outside play.
- If they seem to be loving a book, we ask them about. We let them talk our ear off about their latest read, and if they want us to read it. We do. There’s nothing more encouraging then sharing in a story their love.
- We make sure they see us reading for pleasure. Both of us, so it’s neither seen as a girl thing, a boy thing, nor a kid thing. Reading is for everyone.
- Whenever they complain that there’s nothing good to read we head to the library.
My next point is controversial and I’ve been flamed for it before, but I‘m still going to put it out there, because I’ve seen how important it is.
Please, hear me out before you tie me to the stake. My eldest is twelve, which according to publisher guidelines puts her somewhere between the perfect age for MG and YA. Many people believe that if a child wants to read a book, we should never say no. Reading is good, so we should encourage them to read whatever takes their fancy. My daughter could pick up Stephen King’s It, read it in two days, understand all the vocabulary used, and situations explored, but would I allow her to read It. Hell no! She’s a sensitive little soul, and she’d not only have nightmares for the rest of forever, she’d be too terrified to sleep anywhere but between her father and I for, well, ever. Nor would I allow her to read 50 Shades of Grey, which by the way she’s asked me about, because she’s seen it in the shop and a friend brought it from Kmart as a dare. Now, The Hunger Games is a book lots of her peers started reading back at age 10 and 11. It’s also on her ‘no go’ list, for now. Kids killing each other — nope. I know she can’t handle that. She knows she can’t handle that. In another twelve months she may be able to, but not right now. I would never stop her reading books designed for readers above her age if the story did not contain themes that weren’t appropriate for her. Anyway, let’s not get into a rant on censorship here … what I really want to point out is why this makes my list of raising bookworms. Just like anything else in life, a negative experience, or one you aren’t emotionally equipped for can turn a love into a hatred, and I never want my kids to hate reading because they read a book they weren’t ready for.
And that’s the end of my motherly list of how I’ve raised book lovers.
What about you … is there anything that contributed to you loving books, or if you’re a mum, that you do with your kidlets to ensure they love books?
Stacey Nash is the proud mother of three little bookworms. If you feel like connecting with the young adult author on social media, where she tries to be engaging check out these places: www.stacey-nash.com, instagram, twitter, facebook.