Monday, February 22, 2016

12 Easy Ways to Make Books a Bigger Part of Your Family Life

I have a lot of books. Some people might say I have a "book habit." Others might call it a problem. Personally, I don't think I have a book problem; I have a lack of shelf space problem! But my shelves didn't get so full because I was out spending money on every new hardcover I ever wanted to read. Many of these books were gifts, or they were purchased used, or I found them for 99 cents in one of my children's book orders.

No matter how the books got here, I have always been proud of the fact that my kids have grown up surrounded by books. And, may I add, all three of them now have their own issues with shelf space.

It doesn't matter what your book budget is or isn't. And it doesn't matter if you have a house full of readers who will devour every book within their grasp. Every child deserves a home in which reading is encouraged and books are available. So here are some easy ways for you to make books a bigger part of your family life.

1. Invest in books that relate to your child's other interests. Your son or daughter may not be a big reader, but chances are they have other interests. You can find craft books, art books, books about video games or Legos or pets at your local library.

2. Always include books on your gift lists. Every time. Holidays. Birthdays. If there is an occasion to give your child a gift, get him or her a book!

3. Enter online book giveaways as often as you see them. Book bloggers, authors, and publishers conduct giveaways all the time. I have quite a selection of books acquired through giveaways. Enter often enough and you're bound to win now and then. And lots of times you'll be winning a signed copy. How cool is that?

4. Make reading a part of your child's regular routine, whether it be at bedtime or some other time during the day. Even if you're short on time, read a short picture book or a poem with them (or recite one from memory). It can take less than five minutes, but make a world of difference.

5. Let your kids catch you reading. When they're very young, kids love to emulate their parents. This is why they try on our shoes, pretend to nurse their baby dolls, and yell into the toy phone! Let them see you reading regularly. They'll want to read too!

6. Give your children book money and let them spend it on a book of their choosing. This could be at the book store, the thrift store, even a yard sale. You don't have to spend a lot, and you certainly don't have to buy books new!

7. Keep novelty books around the house in a prominent, easily-accessible spot. Some ideas for novelty books are pop-ups, like Dr. Optic's Amazing Pop-up Illusions by Andrew Bennet; seek-and-find books like I Spy and Look Alikes; and fact books like 5000 Awesome Facts and Guinness World Records. These books are fun for kids to flip through casually without feeling pressured to read the whole thing.

8. Listen to audio books during road trips. It's a great way to keep the peace during those long stretches of driving, and it may give you something interesting to talk about when you stop for meals.

9. Bring your children to story time at your local library or book store. They will have fun singing songs, doing activities, and interacting with other kids. Have your kids outgrown story time? Keep up to date with library and book store events, and bring them along when a favorite author comes to town. My kids and I have gone to see Sara Dessen, Brandon Sanderson, and Rainbow Rowell!

10. Get your children their own library cards. It's easy to check out books for your toddler or preschooler on your own card, but getting them their own card as soon as they are able to understand what that means will get them more involved in the process. And they will love being able to "pay" with their own cards for their own stack of books!

11. Let them pick a book from the book order. Most book orders that come home with your kids will have a couple of options for even the tightest budget. If you can manage it, do it! If this is hard for you, consider having a coin jar marked "book order fund" so you can save up for just this purpose.

12. Provide a place for your child to store his or her very own books. If your kids are anything like my son, they'll be more likely to pick up a book and read on their own if they have their own stash. Plus, it helps ensure that books are always in sight, and never quite out of mind!

Chances are, if your kids are book nerds like mine, they're already dragging you off to the library and bookstore on a regular basis! But your kids don't have to be book nerds to benefit from having more access to books. Also, many of these ideas are free or very low cost, so it doesn't have to cost a lot of money to give books a more prominent place in you and your kids' lives.

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