Rule 1. Create the right environment.
Readers surround themselves with books. You will visit the home of a good reader and see bookshelves groaning under the weight of various tomes, bedside tables holding a stack of books and the odd book on the coffee table. If you delve inside the bag of a reader, you will often find a well-loved, dog eared paperback. So rule one is simple: create the right environment by surrounding yourself, and your kids, with books.
This may seem like an obvious statement, and a silly rule, but it is not. There are many houses in this country in which there are few (if any) books. In a wealthy, developed country like ours, this is a very odd thing. There are third world countries in which education and knowledge is valued far more than in our society, and maybe we take what is available for granted. But just because books are so readily available in our country does not always translate into these books being taken into our homes.
Children can’t learn to cook without the ingredients, they can’t learn to play cricket without a bat and ball, and they can’t learn to play piano without the instrument.
They can’t learn to read without a book.
It is not difficult to create the right environment – a reading environment – in your home. All it takes is a bookcase, or bookshelf and a nice comfy chair and voila! You have yourself a reading corner and the beginnings of a reading environment.
Books are easy to collect. Yes, they can be expensive, and if you can afford to treat yourself, by all means buy beautiful new books. Make them a treat. When my children were much younger, I used to make a special trip to the bookshop in the school holidays and each of my children was allowed to pick one book. We would then retreat to the local café for a coffee and hot chocolate, over which we would excitedly pore over our new books. It was special time together, and my teenage children still treasure those ‘holiday books’.
However, if money is tight, there are always book sales, second hand bookshops and of course, the local library. You can borrow books, of course, but many libraries have regular sales where they sell off the books they no longer need in their collection at very low prices.
In addition, if you put the word out to family and friends that you’re on the lookout for some books, you may well be overwhelmed by donations. Gradually you will build up your own little ‘library’.
If you make your home a place where books are seen, loved and treasured you are sending an important message to your child: In this house books are valued. That means books are important.
More importantly, by creating the right environment – a reading environment- you are providing your children with the tools to get started.
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