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Helping Children Learn to Love Reading

Why do we want children to love reading? Daniel Willingham says that a love of reading isn’t essential for many traditional measures of success. Instead, the University of Virginia psychology professor hopes children will learn to love reading because of the pleasure and experiences it brings.

Willingham, the author of the new book Raising Kids Who Read, told NPR in a recent interview, “I think I gain experiences I wouldn’t gain any other way by virtue of being a reader. And so naturally I want my children to experience that.”

Willingham’s book describes strategies for parents and teachers to use to help children discover a love of reading. Divided into three parts, the sections address strategies for children birth through preschool, kindergarten through second grade, and third grade and beyond.

Commenting on the NPR interview, one person described a family ritual that shaped her into a lifelong reader. She wrote,

We would go to the nearest bookstore and my sister and I could buy any books we liked. My parents never said no to any book and gave us complete freedom to search the store and make our own discoveries. Not only did we learn to love these books, but we associated them with independence and satisfied curiosity. It was the smartest thing my parents ever did for us.

How did you learn to love reading? How do you open your students’ or your own children’s eyes to the wonders of the written word?

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