Ah, books. My first love. From Chicka Chicka Boom Boom to Anne of Green Gables, the moment I could learn to sound out “th-at” was the moment I had morphed into a complete goner. I’d lose entire summers to a pile of books; I’d blow dry my wet head with my hair flopped over a memoir on my lap; I’d stay up ’til the wee hours of a school night to finish a book, only to close it and start it all over again, hungry for seconds. Books were at once a sweet escape and a sanctuary, an education and a revolt—all things I want desperately for my son—a sticky, crusty, diaper-clad little dude—to grow to love, too.
Will that intoxicating flip of a page compete against Snapchat? Or Fortnite? YouTube and emojis? How do I encourage him to fall into this love for words and chapters, books and series on his own? Without forcing it like peas or, you know, clothes? These are questions that keep me up at night, when there’s not a book in my hand to distract me.
Books were at once a sweet escape and a sanctuary, an education and a revolt—all things I want desperately for my son—a sticky, crusty, diaper-clad little dude—to grow to love, too.
Truth is, I don’t know. I suspect luck, like most things, plays a big role, but I refuse to leave it at that. So, here are a few supremely simple action items I’ve employed—advice from podcasts or studies by people who know way more about this than I, as well as a few “yeah, n’doi” elements. Nothing over-the-top, everything easy and intuitive to weave into our everyday lives, just how I like it.
Wild, right? Turns out the simplest way to get your kid hooked on these book things is to read them. Read to them. Read to yourself. Read a newspaper in the morning or a cookbook on the weekends. Show them that reading is a habit and they’re more likely to pick it up themselves.
I don’t know about you, but just typing out the word l-i-b-r-a-r-y sends a whiff of old hard covers and ink on pulp paper straight to my brain, making me tingle. Musty aroma aside, though, libraries are a great place to show kids that stories live outside of books, too. Here, there are plays and puppet shows, toys and arts and crafts—you know, major fun stuff.
Fill your home with books of every kind, in unexpected corners. Baskets of books in the dining room, shelves in the living room, piles here and there—little reminders that you can hop into a good story anywhere, anytime you like.
Hoity-toity book snobs beware—graphic novels and comics are literature, too. Give kids a break from pages full of words and introduce them to a different kind of storytelling, with bright pictures and big, memorable characters.
Turns out the simplest way to get your kid hooked on these book things is to read them. Show them that reading is a habit and they’re more likely to pick it up themselves.
I have yet to see our little guy crack open War and Peace, but he’ll reach on his chubby little tippy toes for a book to mumble through or climb onto a lap with a book in hand—which, yes, is just as heart-shattering as it sounds. So, something’s working. I think. What about you? Don’t be shy. Share any ideas, tricks, or blatant bribes below, please.
April (Swinson) Smasal spent her formative years in Wyoming, where her career options were limited to rodeo queen or writer. Foregoing the lure of an impressive belt buckle collection, she opted for the word thing. Now, she’s a copywriter and writer-writer living in St. Paul, Minnesota with her husband, Nick, baby boy, Hank Danger and very cute-slash-spoiled French Bulldog, Arnold E. Biscuits.
BY April Smasal - July 12, 2019
Thank you for being here. For being open to enjoying life’s simple pleasures and looking inward to understand yourself, your neighbors, and your fellow humans! I’m looking forward to chatting with you.