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I’m definitely in my “teacher mode” as August rapidly approaches. With that back to school spirit in mind, I’m sharing a few thoughts on reading and writing with kids.

As a former teacher, reading and writing are and always have been, very important to me. I taught Reading and Language Arts for several years at the elementary level. So believe me when I say, reading and writing go hand-in-hand. Just as writers become more inspired the more they read, children’s writing ability improves dramatically as they read more. If your child is struggling with writing, get them reading. Reading opens a whole new world of imagination for children. Encourage the imaginative child to write down their outlandish stories and wild ideas. Encourage the bored child to find a book and read it. Don’t worry, I have a few ideas about the excuses already flowing through your heads.

But I don’t have time! I know, I know. It’s hard to find time to read with the kids when you’re working all day, coming home to prepare dinner, running off to soccer, football, dance, basketball, karate, and whatever else kind of practice you’ve got them involved in. Parents often don’t have the time to sit and read with their children, but just as writers have to carve time into our already busy schedules to write, parents must do the same. Make time to read. I’ve struggled with this myself, but have recommitted to taking the time to do it.

But I don’t even know where to begin. I can’t stress enough the importance of reading at the early stages. Start now! If you don’t know where to begin try these suggestions. (1) Ask for help in your local bookstore in the children’s section. Bookstores can be overwhelming when looking for good reads for your children. Don’t go it alone. Ask for help. It will save you and your child time and frustration. (2) Believe it or not, even though we are in the booming age of eBooks, libraries do still exist you know. Visit your local library. The librarian will be more than happy to offer some suggestions for your young readers. You can also visit your library’s website. You can borrow books online and download them to your eBook. The nice thing is, you won’t have to worry about late returns because it’s automatically removed from your eReader once it expires. (3) Ask your child’s teacher about books that are appropriate for your child’s age or reading level. Teachers are an excellent resource in this area. Use them! (4) Finally, Talk to your child. Ask him what he’s interested in reading. If he doesn’t know, think about his personality and interests. That’s always a good start. For example, if your child loves sports, start looking for books about sports or books that incorporate sports into the story. Children often give clues, we just have to be tuned in to pick up on them.

But my kid hates reading. For the parent of the kid who hates reading, what else is new! Most kids hate what they have to do. It’s our job to help get them interested. But, they won’t always gain an interest in something they are not exposed to. Make sure they see you reading. Reading is not just for school. Like I tell my own son, you don’t have to like it, but you most certainly have to do it. I stopped and analyzed my own reading habits around my children. I realized they weren’t seeing me read. I couldn’t keep demanding they do something they don’t even see me doing. Gone are the days of do as I say, not as I do. If you want your children to take an interest in reading, then read. It really is that simple.

I’ve put together a new page for Kids’ reads. It will grow over time. As it grows, I will post books my own children are reading, books my students have enjoyed over the years, children’s books on our bookshelf at home, and some teacher favorites. Happy reading everyone. Enjoy!

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