Wouldn't it be lovely if our kids (especially our older ones) would just love to relax with a book? It's idyllic, really. I mean, if we do our jobs right as parents and model reading, read to our children, and make them read, they should just love it, right?
If this is the case, then many children of the current generation will become iPod games, SnapChat posts, and Twitter snippets.
That's quite a scary proposition, isn't it?
As a parent I am determined to fight this culture and fight for the heart of my child, and one way I can do that is through READING. (But what if my child doesn't like to read, you ask?) I want to share with you one strategy that has worked wonders in our home, and I think if you stick with it long enough it can work in your home - for your children - as well as it has in mine.
Do Your Children Love to Read (or not)?
My first child LOVED to read. She begged to go to the library. She loved bookstores. She read all of the time. Quite naturally I expected my second child to possess the same love of reading. He did NOT. I immediately panicked and wondered what I had done wrong in his earliest of days.
Come to find out, some children just aren't naturally inclined to want to read. Imagine that.
I can accept that fact - but what I CANNOT accept is me not at least trying to cultivate a sense of wonder, respect, and reverence for good books.
Now, in my efforts to encourage reading I never would have said things like, "Sit down and read this book." or "I'll set the timer and you need to read for 30 minutes." or "How come you don't like to read? Your sister does!"
OK - I'm lying. I DID say those things and I'm ashamed to admit that now. I'm so glad I learned the error of my ways and began strewing books throughout our home. (I also give my kids plenty of time to be "bored" - and during those times there are plenty of books to turn to.)
Have you ever heard of STREWING?
Quite literally strewing means "to scatter about in a haphazard manner". I want to, however, change that definition for the sake of our reading goal...
"to scatter about in a manner that APPEARS to be haphazard but is really quite deliberate and intentional."
It's simple, and I wish I had always done this from the beginning. I strategically started placing books around our home. And, while it appears haphazard, there is always a method to my madness.
5 Places to Strew - Where do I Put The Books?
Books can go ANYWHERE.
We have books in every.single.room of our home - and there is a reason for that! I want reading to be the go-to thing for my children. Wherever they turn is a bookshelf or pile of books from which to choose a friend to spend a few minutes with.
Places to strew books:
- coffee tables/bedside tables
- bathrooms (don't laugh!)
- sofas/chairs, etc...
- a bag in the car (you never know when you might have to wait somewhere!)
- kitchen table (my kids love to pick up a book that is nearby to keep them company during breakfast)
5 Ideas for Strewing - How Do I Choose?
What is your child interested in? When my son was younger I would strew books containing baseball statistics and books about baseball legends. Oh, and LEGO books were always a huge hit, too. Take your child's interests and capitalize on them! I recall once my son was asking a lot of questions about the Bible when he was very young... I left out his Children's Storybook Bible and he read the entire thing in two nights.
What season of the year is it? Do you have fun holiday books to strew around the house? Maybe Easter is approaching and you want to include books about rabbits, the Easter Story, or even something like Faberge Eggs - the sky is the limit!
Strewing books about artists and composers is always a good choice. Coffee table art books, biographies, and "how to" drawing books are always favorites in our house. Maybe you pick an artist or composer and strew information about them for a while - be creative! Leaving a book of Jack Prelutsky poems in plain view cannot be ignored. (You get the point.)
Whatever historical time period you are studying gives you plenty of material for strewing. This can be anything from basic fact books and history encyclopedias to early readers to more meaty books - depends on the age of your child(ren). Or, maybe you are learning about the solar system. Strew books all about that subject around the house.
My youngest has an affinity for cartoon books - so once I strew several Garfield and Peanuts books. He loves them still! What about joke books? Or, choose some favorite funny chapter books that might endear themselves to your children. There are also certain books that I just want my children to be exposed to that really don't fit in a category - PERFECT for strewing.
I hope I've given you an idea of how, what and where to strew.
Another story ... about a 12 year old boy that still says he doesn't "like" to read but has been a victim of my strewing!
Every evening our house closes down around 10 p.m. We begin winding down the day at 9 p.m.. I leave a few of these books on my son's nightstand or in the family room. He is free to do whatever he would like between 9-10, as long as he is in his room and is electronic free. A couple of weeks ago I walked into his room and was so encouraged to see him reading a book - and the minute I set foot in his room he began telling me all these "cool" things he had found out about the presidents.
(I've been choosing books to strew from our monthly book lists that Amy contributes for the readers each month - hoping he would discover them!)
THIS is the goal.
We don't need to create young people who will want to devour The Iliad & The Odyssey (that would be nice, but not entirely practical) - we need to develop in our children the knowledge that a book holds many good things, and can bring them much knowledge and joy. Books are wonderful ways to pass our free time, ways to connect with others, and ways to broaden our horizons.
We just need to give our children opportunities to DISCOVER and CONNECT WITH those books.
So, start strewing - you'll be glad you did.
Following are some of the many books we've strewn about the house over the years - not an exhaustive list by any means, just enough to get your wheels turning!
Talk to me about your readers?
How do you inspire reading in your home?
Do you strew?