I am a nerd when it comes to reading. I love to read. I always have. I'd much rather spend my money on books than clothing or shoes. The feel and smell of a new book excites me! (Right about this time, you're probably nodding your head in agreement saying, "yep, she sure is a nerd." Unless you're also a nerd too, at which point you are in complete understanding with me.)
One of the wonderful things about homeschooling my kids, is that I am really able to spend an ample amount of time reading with them. In fact, most of our learning is done through the use of living books. And I think that this has helped passed my love of reading on to my kiddos.
But here are some other things I have found helpful in fostering the love of reading in my children and may be helpful to you...
1. Start at a young age. I don't mean teach them to read at a young age. I mean set out parenting with the intent of raising your children to love reading and books. This leads me to the next point...
2. Read with your child. I think that this might be the MOST important and MOST successful way to encourage reading in your child. I spend hours each day reading TO my kids. We cuddle up on the couch under blankets and read. Sometimes I'll read to them while they do something with their hands like draw or play with Play-Doh.
3. Read books that they find interesting. Now here's where you need to be careful. Careful to steer clear of what some call "twaddle". Translated: books that are full of inferior and foolish content. There are a lot of those kind of books out there. Choose carefully with what you allow your child to fill his/her mind.
4. Read a bit above their level now and then. Your time of reading to your child is the perfect time to read content that is a bit more challenging. Using the Sonlight curriculum, I have found that many of our wonderfully enriching read-aloud books are more challenging and filled with very insightful content. Use your read-to-them time to start a classic book. Reading a classic with your young child is a good opportunity to expand their vocabulary and their appreciation of the fine books that have been penned in ages past. Discuss and define words and concepts to your child as you read. Right now, Brad and Ian are reading King Arthur together at bedtime. Ian enjoys it because his daddy is reading it to him, and Brad takes the time to explain difficult words and concepts.
5. Make books accessible. We literally have books in every room of our house (well except the hall bathroom.) Each bedroom has at least one bookshelf filled with books. I have baskets of books set about the living room in various places. I'll occasionally put an interesting book out on the coffee table for the family to browse through. I make it a point to place books everywhere where everyone can see them and use them.
6. Invest in a library membership. I pay $20 for a year's worth of library access. And my kids are always excited to visit the library. (And so am I.)
7. Build your home library. I've done this mostly through thrift store buys. It's amazing the amount of really good books you can find at thrift stores and yard sales. You just have to keep a look-out for them. I ALWAYS visit the book section of our thrift stores when I go there. Just be cautious not to buy a book simply because you can get it for a quarter. Remember, choosing quality book content is essential. You can also build your home library by buying books for your children for holidays and birthdays and requesting family members do the same.
8. Limit television, computer use, and video games. All three of the aforementioned are big black holes when it comes to time and mental energy. I'm pretty certain that if I gave my eight-year-old the choice of reading a book or playing a Wii game, he would pick the Wii game. Therefore, I restrict the video games to Saturday only and only for an hour, and we typically don't watch television in our home either.
9. When your child is first learning to read, don't force them to read on their own if they aren't ready. The last thing we want to do is make reading unpleasant for them. Children learn to read at different ages. Some children (particularly boys) aren't ready to read until around the age of eight. If we're constantly hounding our child to read before they are ready, we're going to frustrate them. If we frustrate them, they will begin to equate reading with something unpleasant. If you feel your child might not be ready to go solo yet, just continue to do all the reading together. Make reading a fun and enjoyable past-time.
10. Be an example. Children often follow in their parents' footsteps. If your child sees you reading and appreciating a good book, they are more likely to enjoy reading as well.
Here are some great online reading resources:
Ambleside Online Booklist - contains an extensive list of "twaddle-free" books for children.
A Charlotte Mason Booklist
A Simple Mom's list specifically for preschoolers
Homeschool for Free - an extensive amount of reading links; not just for homeschoolers!
Three books that offer insight and summaries of many high-quality children's books...
Honey for a Child's Heart
(I have the two following on my bookshelf...)
Books Children Love (Revised Edition): A Guide to the Best Children's Literature
Read for the Heart: Whole Books for WholeHearted Families