Effort Begets Effort

A reminder: This post courtesy of Julie Jarnagin’s 101 Blog Post Ideas for Writers.

78. Tips for fostering a love of books in our children

Personally, I believe that this is easier than it sounds, and that the long and short of it is…read to your kids. It’s as easy as that.

See, I believe there’s a bit of a plague happening in the modern world, and that is an unwillingness of parents to spend a reasonable amount of time and effort actually teaching their kids things. I’m not saying I’m a super-mom or anything, but I’ve noticed that whenever parents complain that their kids are behind on something (not walking yet, not talking yet, doesn’t feed themselves, etc) there seems to be a distinct lack of the parents actually attempting to teach the child. For instance, a couple I met was complaining that their three-year-old didn’t seem to be talking enough. What I noticed, as they were complaining and talking about taking the kid to speech therapists, was that they barely every seemed to actually talk to the kid themselves. Now let me ask you this: how do you expect a kid to learn how to talk if you don’t show him how to?

It’s no different when teaching kids to read and enjoy books…they’re only going to catch on to it if you put forth the time and effort to show them what’s so great about it. Take my daughter, for instance. She can’t read of course – she’s only recently 2 – but we started showing her letters and teaching her what they are when she was only about a year old. We were patient with her and showed them to her whenever we could, and applauded her whenever she learned something. The result is that now, at 2 years old, she knows all her letters and the order they go in, and she’s almost able to sing the alphabet song. Now when she looks through books she’ll point out letters and be so proud of herself, and when one of us reads something to her sometimes she’ll point at the words and mumble along…she understands the concept even if she doesn’t have the skills to actually read it yet, and the fact that she’s learning makes her happy and excited.

That’s the key, I think, to fostering a love of reading in children. Teach them, because (particularly when they’re young) they want to learn, make it fun, and show them how proud you are when they accomplish something. If you put in the effort, they’ll put in the effort, and the more they do, the more they’ll enjoy it.

(Also, for the record, Sesame Street is still the best educational program around, bar none. Ernie is totally the main reason my daughter can already count to 13.)

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