I've written quite a number of posts about growing bookworms (i.e. raising children who love books). I've shared many, many other people's post and articles on this topic in my literacy roundup posts (with Carol and Terry) and my Twitter and Facebook links. But today I was thinking that it really boils down to a recipe with three ingredients:
Books + Parents + Time
Combine these three ingredients by reading aloud together, every day, and you'll most likely grow yourself some bookworms.
Let's talk about these ingredients for a moment, shall we?
Books: You need to have books in your house, all the time, if you are going to grow bookworms. They can be your own books or library books (or ideally both). They can be new books or books that you buy for 25 cents at your library booksale. They can be recently published books or classics (ideally a mix of both). But there have to be books. As many, and as varied, as you can manage. This is why I love programs like Reach Out and Read, RIF, and First Book (and many other local programs). But library cards and book sales work great, too.
Parents: While it is certainly true that other people have an impact on whether or not children grow up to love books (librarians, teachers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.), parents are positioned to have the MOST impact. Parents are the ones who are there, every day, and can read aloud, every day. (This does hold for other adults who live with children, of course.) I can (and do) buy books for my niece and nephew. I will talk with them about books when they are older. But they live 3000 miles away from me. Their parents are the ones who will grow them into bookworms, not me. Parents grow bookworms by getting all of those books into the house, by modeling reading as a positive and desirable activity, and, most of all, by reading aloud.
Time: It's not enough to have dozens or even hundreds of books lying around the house. Parents also have to make time for reading aloud. This means turning off the television in the evening, so that there's time to read before bed. It means starting the bedtime routine early enough that there is time to read before the child, or the parent, falls asleep. It means carving out other times for reading during the day, whenever you are home with the kids. I'm a working parent myself. I know that this is not always easy. But time spent together enjoying books is a crucial ingredient for growing bookworms. There are no shortcuts. No real ways to multi-task or make your time more efficient. There's just you, your children, the books, and the time to read them.
There are other things that help, of course. Having great teachers and librarians. Having people to help you find the right books. Going to the library and to bookstores. And there are things (like learning disabilities) that can make this more difficult. But in general, if you want to grow bookworms (and there are many, many reasons why this is a good idea), you need books, parents, and time. Stir these ingredients together by reading aloud, and you're on the right path to grow some bookworms.