Hi. I’m Josh. I write picture books like Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast. The 4th book in the series, Short & Sweet, releases next week! Because I’m an author, you might assume that I’ve always loved to read. You’d be wrong.
I felt reading was a chore and grew up without an appreciation for books. I was one of the kids in high school who bought the Cliff’s Notes because I rarely made the time to read the assigned chapters (you could find me frantically going over details with classmates in case there was a pop quiz).
And I regret all of it. For many reasons. Not only did I miss out on some classic literature (albeit, most of which was written by dead white men that ought to be dropped from the curriculum), but I’m also a very slow reader. I read about as fast in my head as I do out loud.
As I grew into adulthood (although I still feel like a perpetual 12-year-old), I started reading more. Friends would share book recommendations. I began devouring audiobooks on my day job commute. My wife is a HUGE reader and I’m totally jealous of how fast she can read. And then we had kids.
As parents often do (I assume), I projected my faults onto my kids and did everything I could to try to make them readers. Maybe they would have become great readers regardless (they are my wife’s kids, too). Some of what I tried might seem obvious and hopefully, you already do some. But whatever I did appeared to work.
So here are my Seven Secrets to Raising Eager Readers
- Let Your Kids See You Reading
Kids emulate their parents (duh!). And if you’re often reading books (and not on a device – even your kids know you could easily be checking twitter if you’re on your phone), they will notice. So read. Often. Show your kids that reading is a fixture in your life and it will become a normal part of theirs.
- Always Have Lots of Books Around
If you can, purchase lots of books (especially from independent bookstores). But books can be expensive. So utilize your public library. Cover your coffee tables and bedside tables (and any tables) with books. Keep stacks of books in your car. Always have something around to read. If books are always there, kids are likely to pick them up.
- Visit Your Public Library. A Lot.
If possible, multiple times a week. Within a few weeks, you’ll be on a first-name basis with all of the children’s librarians. You might even begin to learn their schedules. But most importantly, let your kids choose new and exciting adventures to dive into as often as possible.
- Let Your Kids Read Whatever They Want
And I mean WHATEVER they want. If it seems too hard – maybe you’re underestimating them. If it seems too easy – who cares!? It’s reading – and they’re enjoying it. It’s WAY more important that kids enjoy reading than challenging them to push themselves to read difficult stuff (and let’s be real – do you only read highly intellectual books?). Don’t judge your kids’ choices. Let them read WHATEVER they want.
- Read With Your Kids As Much As Time Allows
I know everyone’s schedules are different. Maybe the most you can do is a picture book a week. Or maybe you can spare an hour (or more) each night. I used to read chapter books, then novels, with my oldest for hours each night from the time she was almost five until she was eight or nine (when she realized she could read the books faster if she read them herself). It was the best part of my day that I’d constantly be looking forward to.
- Be An Enthusiastic Reader
Whenever you make the time to read, try to enjoy it! Hopefully, you’ll find books that entertain you, the parent, in addition to your child and it will be easy. But even if you don’t love the book, read it with gusto – it’ll be that much more enjoyable for the kids. The excitement you bring to reading is contagious.
- Connect with Authors
We love meeting readers. Attend events at bookstores and libraries (they’re constantly inviting authors to visit – check their local calendars). Say hi and send a comment over social media. Contact them on their websites. I’ll never forget when we tweeted to Marsha Riti, illustrator of the Critter Club books and she wrote back – my daughter was in awe! Show your kids that authors are real people!
And that’s it. Those are the 7 secrets to raising eager readers. But I guess they’re not secrets anymore.
Bio: Josh Funk is a software engineer and the author of books like the Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast series, the It’s Not a Fairy Tale series, the How to Code with Pearl and Pascal series, the A Story of Patience & Fortitude series, Dear Dragon, Pirasaurs!, Albie Newton, and more. For more information about Josh Funk, visit him at www.joshfunkbooks.com and on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook at @joshfunkbooks.
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Note From Melissa:
Josh’s advice is spot-on, isn’t it? And his books are entertaining, humorous, and fun to read. Thank you, Josh, for your words of wisdom.
If you haven’t seen Short and Sweet, don’t miss it!
You’ll love the rhyming text that narrates the terrible ordeal of Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast who are — gasp — spoiling! They visit Professor Biscotti for help but he accidentally shrinks them. Oh, no! Terrified of their large friend, Baron von Waffle, the miniature Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast run away through fields of bran and pine nuts, play on a fun playground, and even to library. Eventually, the pair return to the laboratory where Baron von Waffle returns them to their normal size. Hooray for a happy ending! Readers will adore this food-based adventure, detailed illustrations, and playful word choices.
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