Tag Archives: the nester

Day 17: Get Carded (Library Carded, that is)

Last year on the first day of school, the boy got his very own official library card.

It was monumental.

Want you kid to have a love for reading? Have him get a library card.

There is a secret to this trick though. Anyone can get a library card card if they are a resident of a city and can write their name. They can then immediately stuff that card into a wallet or the back of a desk drawer and never, ever use it again.

Or that person can get a library card on a special day (first day of school, birthday, Columbus day, Tuesday) and know that with that card comes great privilege and responsibility. They can come to understand that one little plastic card can get them any book or movie or CD their little heart desires. A library card opens many doors to the young reader and gives them ownership in the act of borrowing of reading materials.

It also teaches a harsh reality when it comes to being responsible for books and dealing with late fines.

(I am the worst about late fines. Always have been. I resist the urgent to analyze what this may/may not mean about my character)

Our family visits the library at least once a week.  Each child has a library bag and a library card. They are asked to check out a variety of books each week. Our list includes:


One science book

One history book

One art or music appreciation book

One craft or how-to book

One biography or autobiography

One classic novel (*Evelyn is asked to get a few readers rather than a long chapter book)

One book of poetry

After they collect these books, they are free to load up on whatever else looks interesting to them. We usually leave with a haul. Most of it gets read during the week while a few go untouched for various reasons. We return it all the next week and start fresh, looking for new treasures among the shelves of our library.

Does your child have a library card? What is his/her favorite thing to scoop up while pursuing the aisles?

Day 15: Read the book…see the play

This year, the boy is learning about various genres in literature. He is reading a quality book in a specific genre and then completeing extension activitives about the book and the facets of the genre. So far, this has been a really fun way to grow his literary habits and for the two of us to dig deep into various types of books.

A few weeks ago we wrapped up our study on Adventure books. Being a boy, Isaac is all about the adventure story. One of the books he read during this time was The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

Over the summer when I was planning for the upcoming school year, I noticed that The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was playing at a local theater company.


Last Friday the children and I took school on the road and set out to enjoy this production. Isaac loved seeing the pages of a book he had read and studied come to life on the stage. Ironically, he became terribly involved in the suspense and got upset when he thought danger had taken the life of Tom.

Being the compassionate mother that I am, I leaned over and said, “Dude, you have read the book. You know what happens.”

Mom of the Year over here.

Taking children to see a play based on a book they have read is a great way to ignite a love for reading and for literature. When the story becomes alive on the stage, suddenly loved characters of a book are real and interactive. The places that were once only residing in a child’s imagination are suddenly right before their eyes.

Plays are a great way to encourage a love for books and for the wonder they hold.

Day 12: Books as Problem-Solvers

Most of us probably loved books as small children. As babies, we likely enjoyed nawwing on a a chunky board book. As toddlers, we loved the feel of carrying books around the house. As preschoolers we found pleasure in being read to by an adult or older sibling.

Then we eventually head off to school and at some point books become assosicated with work.

During my two years of grad school, I doubt I read one book merely for fun. Do not misunderstand…I read a lot (a lot!) during that time but it was all school-associated. I remember the husband and I talking at one point about how nice it would be to read for fun once all of our schooling was behind us.

One way to break this association that older kids may make between reading and school work is to help them understand the usefulness of books at an early age. Books open many doors, including ways to help the reader overcome real life battles.


Issues with bullying? Check out The Juice Box Bully. or 100 Dresses

Having problems getting along with siblings? Read The Berenstain Bears Get in a Fight

School anxiety plague your little one? Try 100th Day Worries

Little ones having a difficult time controlling their anger? Pull out When Sophie Gets Angry

Children having issue with rude language? The Berenstain Bears Show Some Respect


Showing children that books posses power is a great way to ignite a love for reading. In this case, showing kids how they can read stories that relate to their own lives and situations helps them understand that books are not merely for the classroom.



Day 10: Have a Book Picnic

For some, books seem stiff and boring. They do not talk. They lack a touchscreen with animated sounds. They are housed on dusty shelves placed out of reach from curious hands.

For some, books hold very little wonder.

To inspire a love of reading in children, they sometimes need to be shown the wonder that the written word can hold. A great way to encourage exploration of books is to take them outside. Fall is the perfect time to gather a large stack of books, a big quilt, some tasty treats and head outdoors to read. Books are not meant to be used only indoors in stuffy situations. They are meant to inspire and stimulate the imagination.

I cannot think of a better place for these things to happen than outside.

Day 7: What Happens in Book Club, Stays in Book Club

Admit it: We all think clubs are kind-of cool.

Even those of us who may act like they do not think clubs are cool, find some sort of anti-club to join. (thus joining a club)

Being a part of something gives us a sense of belonging. It gives us a cause to believe in. It provides a way for us to connect.

If one were to flip through my senior yearbook, it may be noted that I was a member of quite a few clubs. This was in no way because I was terribly interested in any of the club’s misson statements nor because I felt strongly about a particular issue.

Instead my membership was solely based on two things:

1. Getting my picture in the yearbook a lot.

2. Being with my friends.

Encouraging your child to have an interest in books can be as easy as starting a family book club. Family book clubs can look a variety of ways, depending on the age and reading level of participants. Younger children can share a book with mommy and daddy and then talk about it afterwards. Perhaps an extension activity such as drawing a picture about the story or making a craft to go along with the book happens after reading together.

Older kids and parents can read books separately and then come together to discuss them. My husband and son have done this on several occasions. They read the same book and then talk about it (or giggle over it, in the case of this series).  Older kids can also do a project to go along with their book, such as making a lapbook or creating a diorama (yes…for fun and not for a grade.)

Creating a book club that meets at a particular time (even if that meeting occurs around the dinner table on a regular ol Tuesday) is a fabulous way to encourage children to read.

Some great starter books include:

Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf (extension activities found here)

Berenstain Bear books (these are great for non-readers because they open up lots of topics for discussion)

Little House on the Prairie Series

The Invention of Hugo Cabret  (Husband and son did this one last winter)

My Father’s Dragon (Husband and son doing this series right now)


Does your family have a book club? If so, what are some things you do to make book club fun and interesting?




Day 5: Take it on the Run, Baby

When my children were babies, there were times I would load them up and drive around town aimlessly in hopes of entertaining one and putting the other to sleep.

Years later, I find it amusing that we would get in the car and drive for entertainment. These days, we log many, many miles in the family station wagon. We drive to co-op, we drive to PE, we drive to dance, we drive to church, we drive to Target.

We drive a lot.

Although the current model of the family station wagon does sport a DVD player, we have a pretty strict rule that movies are not turned on unless we are driving for more than 250 miles (*or in case of extreme emergency). Occasionally the kids bring along a Nintendo DS or an iPod touch, but usually we have a no technology rule in the car as well.

What does that leave for two kiddos to do while running all over a large metro area?


Bringing books in the car is a great way to inspire a love of reading. When the kids were little, I kept the backseat stockpiled with board books for them to look through/toss on the floor/use as a snack tray for Cheerios. These days the kids are in charge of bringing their reading entertainment. They know as they are gathering their shoes and water bottles, they also need to grab a few books on the way out the door as well.

Encourage your kids to bring books in the car. A confined time to browse some fun titles is a great way to encourage a love of reading.

Go ahead and toss one in the car for yourself…you never know when the carpool lane will take an extra 30 minu


Day 4: Make it Visual (31 Days Towards Igniting a Love of Reading in Kids)

We live in a culture of praise.

Kids get a to stick their hands in a prize box at school, at home, at the dentist, at Sunday school and basically anywhere they show up and do not act like a complete disaster.

I have some issue about the over-abundance of praise and reward, a thought that basically centers on the idea of what happens when children raised on rewards on no longer rewarded as an adult. A future president of our great country is likely being given a cheap plastic toy and five stickers for merely showing up at school today. The idea is a bit frightening.

The idea of praise and reward stems from the visual and kinesthetic nature of children. They like to SEE how they are doing at something. Slapping a shiny sticker on a chart motivates a child to do a lot things (especially when young) because they enjoy the actual act of sticker-slapping (totally going to coin that phrase, by the way).

One can inspire a love of reading by playing into this desire of kids to see and be involved in their personal progress. Before you run off and stockpile a stash of kiddie meal toys to pass out for each book read, understand that I am not proposing that children be extrinsically rewarded for reading. Rather, create a way to publicly chart and display what the family is reading.

Enter: The Family Reading Log.

This Fall, we are keeping a list of all the books our family reads on our fridge. Even the adults are joining in on the fun as they write down the titles they finish as well. Creating a public space (visual aspect) where kids can write down (kinesthetic aspect) books read is a great way to get them reading. It opens the door for conversation about books read and books one plans to read.

Get friends and family in on the fun. When they stop by, have kids ask if they have read any good books lately. If so, give them a chance to fill in the title on your family reading log.

Everyone feels validated and proud of their reading accomplishments…and there are no junky plastic toys laying around in the end.

Day 3: Set the Example (31 Days towards a love of reading)

One of the most humbling aspects of being a parent is when you hear your words come out of your child’s mouth.

And those words are not pretty.

These words are not the standard off-limit four letter words. They are not swear words. Rather they are words of impatience, grumpiness and frustration. Ugh.

Such times leaving me running for my copy of “Power of a Postive Mom” and attempting my best impersonation of June Cleaver’s even tones.

These times also remind me that little ones are constantly watching my actions and words so they can follow my lead.

Fortunately, children do not merely hone in on our negative traits and copy them for all the world to see. They also pick up on our positive qualities, which can be a significant key to getting children to love reading. One of the best ways to get kids interested in books is to set the example.

Here is my nightstand

Obviously I have yet to embrace the e-reader)

OObviously we love us a good book around here.

Because we are both avid readers, our children see us quite often with a book of some sort in our hands. The husband is particularly good about telling the kids about what he is reading. He pulls out something interesting to share with them from his book. Regardless of the genre of book (business to science fiction…and everything in between), both children become really interested in the fact shared.

Set the reading example for your children. Turn off the TV, stop cleaning up the kitchen for the 7th time that day (have I mentioned that my seven year old somehow managed to have the world’s worst apple juice spill with only a 1/4 cup of juice the other morning? It was on the wall, the window, the baseboards and the floor. Sigh.) and sit down to read. Do not wait for little ones to be tucked in for the evening. Read now while they are awake and happily playing (even if “happily playing” only lasts about five minutes as it does in my house some days).

You will all be inspired.


This is a part of a “31 Series” hosted by The Nester 

Day 2: Seasonal Books (31 Days towards Igniting a Love of Reading)

Tomorrow a cold front is predicted to roll through our area. By Saturday, high temperatures will be in the lower 50’s.

The boots in my closet just did a happy dance.

When you live in a place that could quite possibly see 100 degrees on Halloween (It has happened, people, and it was not pretty), experiencing brisk temperatures early in the Fall is a blessing.

When such weather rolls around, I want to just gather my family together and breathe in the season. Bring on the pumpkins and chili and hot apple cider.

As parents, we all attempt in our own little ways to make the coming and going of seasons fun and exciting for children. Some may go all out and create holiday countdown boards while others scoop up some seasonal donuts and call it a day. A great way to welcome and appreciate the changing of seasons is through books.

Over the years, we have collected a large amount of seasonal books: Back to School books, Halloween Books, Easter books, Valentines Books, etc. Our Christmas book collection has become so crazy that it has a a large plastic bin all its own that lives in the attic eleven months out of the year.

The other books are all housed together in a storage bucket until their season arrives. When a special time comes around (for example: Halloween), the kids and I dig through the seasonal books and pull the appropriate titles. Every year this task is exciting because we see some favorites and also discover some forgotten titles. These seasonal books are put in a bucket by our fireplace where they can be enjoyed for the entire month.

Having a seasonal bucket of books in the main living space of one’s home encourages kids to flip through books on their own. Who doesn’t feel inspired when brisk air is swirling all around the window outside and a tasty treat and a great book are readily available?

Want to ignite a love of reading in your child? Gather up some books about Fall, Halloween and Thanksgiving and place them in a bucket in the living room. Toss in a comfy blanket and a soft pillow and your little ones are ready to explore the wonders of the season in their own living room.


This post is a part of an ongoing “31 Series”. For more like this, check out The Nester


31 Days to Igniting a Love for Reading (Day One: Make it Fun)

Whenever I take my children into their yearly well visit with our pediatrician, one of the questions she always asks is “Are you reading to your children at least 30 minutes a day?”

Great question, huh?

It is also one that can make us feel a ping of mom guilt when we realize that maybe Dora is doing a bit more entertaining than that stack of books from the library that seems to be gathering dust. 

Reading aloud to kids is a great way to ignite a love of reading. Because we homeschool, we have several times set aside during our day where I read to the children. During this time we read a variety of books: fiction, nonfiction, classics or just something fun and whimsical.

Something that I have found to make read-aloud time doable is to make it fun and special on occasion. Sure most of us partake in  the standard bedtime stories that most kids crave, but what can be done  to make the chapter book during the day exciting to listen to for little ones?

Making that time special creates a fun environment for books of all variety.

At our house, we do our history reading during morning snack time.  The kids love when I make this part of our day special.

Before you click off this post, assuming that I have coordinated the book and snack or monogrammed napkins and pulled fresh scones from the oven, rest assured that “special” does not imply “labor-intensive.”

Some days I might make a quick glass of hot chocolate and serve it in nice tea cups. Other days we might have lemonade with a fun (read: leftover from our last birthday party) straw and a handful of goldfish. The kids really love it if I set a fun table with out-of-the-ordinary things (again, I have simply pulled out remnants from past parties).

Making a special time during the day to read aloud to children really gets them interested in books. Take time this week to put together a fun snack and read something to your kids. Perhaps even challenge yourself (and them!) and read something with chapters and an author who provides little to no illustrations.

You will be amazed by their response!


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