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A Book a Day: How to Raise a Reader

Student girl with books

The latest study by the NAAL (National Assessment of Adult Literacy) indicates that over thirty-two million American adults are illiterate. That is 14 percent of U.S. adults or one in every seven people. What does this mean? It means they won’t be reading this article!

Even more important, being illiterate means these adults can’t read a newspaper or the phone book or a job application or the driver’s manual or a road map! They can’t write a letter or read a recipe or help their kids with homework. Even scarier, they can’t read instructions on their medication.

Many communities are taking measures to tackle the problem of illiteracy, as a nation.  But, in spite of efforts to overcome the illiteracy problem, USA has not made any significant progress in solving this issue. As a matter of fact, the problem has worsened!

Between 1993 and 2003, almost four million more adults joined the ranks of adults who cannot read.

The more that you read,
the more things you will know.
The more that you learn,
the more places you’ll go.”

Dr. Seuss said it best! Learning to read is critical to a child’s success—in school and in life.
Literacy is one of the best predictors of a child’s future success.

Pile of books isolated on white background

How can we raise kids who become literate adults? Until someone put skates on Olympic speed skater, Eric Heiden, no one knew he could skate. Children who are not exposed to books early and often don’t have the chance to become readers.

Did you know:

4 in every 5 preschool and after school programs don’t have books?
In some low-income areas the availability of books is something like one for every 300 children?

Why is it important to nurture a love of reading in children?

Literacy affects everything in our daily lives from getting a job to getting around.
People who are illiterate face problems at work, at home, and in the community.
People with a low literacy level have difficulty reading and writing letters, filling out applications and following directions. They often have self-esteem issues and are frequently unemployed. Children are our hope for tomorrow.

[quote]We need to make sure they are as well prepared for the life ahead of them as they can be. Being illiterate puts them at a disadvantage. A good base for literacy begins at birth. There is even research to support reading to your unborn baby![/quote]

Open yellow gift box, stack of books

Here are some tips for encouraging kids to read and to love books.

1.  Read with Your Kids.

It doesn’t matter if this is a night-time ritual or an after-school-with-snacks time!
Kids need to have exposure to interesting books early and often. Reading together is a powerful tool in motivating kids to read. Parent and child interaction is key to developing literacy.

Sit beside your child to share a book and a discussion about what you are reading. Make reading together a special, shared activity.

2. Join the Digital Age

Reading doesn’t always have to be from books. Reading packages at the grocery store or breakfast table is still reading. Subscribe to a monthly magazine like Highlights or Owl or Jack and Jill. Enjoy the stories and games together.

Join the digital era. If reading from a tablet or a video program or a DVD series stimulates interest in reading. Thanks to the digital era, kids can interact with books as they read. Then it is worth every penny. Remember kids DVDs and videos are also available in the local library!

[quote]Video games, magazines, and comic books also provide reading opportunities. Play board games as a family. Board and card games offer lots of reading opportunities.[/quote]

3. Reading should be fun!

If you approach reading as a chore—whether it is your own reading tasks or reading to your child–then, guess what? Your child will see it as work too! If kids are going to like reading, they must see it as fun! How? As you read, keep your child involved. Discuss pictures. Ask questions about the book. Encourage children to fill in the blanks or finish sentences.

Create games related to stories you have read. For example: serve green eggs and ham
or create a wagon train. Use thread on dark construction paper to create Charlotte’s Web.
Act out the stories you and your child read.

Kids reading

4. Keep a Reading Achievement Record

Keep a record of the books you and your child have read. Later the record can be books your child has read to himself and/or with you. We use an inch worm. Each section of the worm has the title of the book, the author, when the book was completed, and one interesting thing about the book. The sections of the inch worm “inch” their way around our child’s room like a border.

5. Variety is the Spice of Life.

Children should be offered choices in reading genres, magazines, activity books, books on tape, and other materials. You need not purchase all these. Use the resources of your public library. Scour book sales and garage sales, library fund raisers, used book stores, and neighborhood rummage sales. Consider a book swap amongst your friends.

[quote]Look for books about things that interest your child. If he is into sports or dinosaurs or horses or unicorns, find books that match these interests. Your librarian, local bookstore owner, or Google search will help you find books on specific topics of special interest to your child.[/quote]

6. Create Book Talk.

Talk to your child about books you’ve read and books you’d like to read. Suggest books that were your favorites when you were a child. Engage your child in talk about the plot and characters of books you have read together. Point out real-life situations that are “just like what happened to Winnie the Pooh” or a dilemma like “Little Miss Muffet encountered”. Consider joining a book discussion group at your local library.


7. Make Time to Read!

No matter how excited your child is about reading, there must be time in your schedule to read together. I like bedtime but there is no rule that says this is the best time to read.

Dedicate a time for reading—together and for your child’s own reading. Set aside specific times and choose a comfy setting. Make reading a much-anticipated activity for you and your child!
Don’t squeeze it in between other activities.

8. Become a Frequent Visitor at your local Library!

Get your child a library card. Become a good friend of your children’s library staff. They are
valuable sources of information and books. Take part in book talks and other activities offered at your local library. Volunteer your time and talents. Make the children’s library a weekly visitor destination for you and your child. Find out about the exciting activities offered at your local children’s library department.

9. Model Reading.

Don’t limit your reading to the time you spend with your child. Let your child see you reading magazines, newspapers, online materials, recipes, road maps…Show your child by word and deed how important it is to be able to read!

[quote]Abraham Lincoln said, “The things I want to know are in books.
My best friend is the man who’ll get me a book I ain’t read yet.”[/quote]

As a support for the Book on Every Bed literacy program, Richly Middle Class is pleased to provide a book to one lucky reader. This month’s book is The Velveteen Rabbit. It’s one of our favorites!

The V Rabbit

Leave a comment. Tell us why you want to receive The Velveteen Rabbit and how you will use this book to promote literacy in your home or community.

Happy reading!


Be the change you'd like to see in the world. Gandhi - Always, Gail

About glennon

Gail is a former teacher, a published writer, and a professional editor. She makes her home in Canada for the summer and Florida for the winter. She loves to write, to travel, and to meet new writers through her editing business. She is thrilled to play a small part in Richly Middle Class. Visit her website at http://www.gleditingandcopywriting.com.


  1. We received he book we won from you to say, “Z is for Moose.” I must say it is much nice than I expected! Beautiful book! Thank you so much, we really appreciate it!

  2. I would love to win this for my son. He loves getting new books and me reading different types of books.

    • Hi Jessica:

      Thanks for dropping by RMC and taking the time to leave a response. The reader reaction to Raise a Reader has been gratifying. We are really glad to know that you read to your son. Thanks for exposing him to a variety of literary genres. Please stay tuned for more articles on nurturing readers and for the monthly book giveaway.

      glennon recently posted…I’m not Your Mother!My Profile

  3. I would love to win this so I can read it to my nieces and pass it on to my future children! Thanks for the giveaway!

  4. I would love to win this book. I loved this book as a child and my kids loved it too. Would use it to start my grandchildren out with reading and a great book for their collection!

  5. I wold love to win this ook! Its my favorite childrens book. And i would love it for my own child.

  6. I would read to my sons and class.

  7. I love the Velveteen Rabbit too, such a warm feeling book. I donate children’s books to a local ministry for single moms as a way to get good books in the hands of children who might not have them otherwise.

    • Hi Terri:

      Your raise a reader project is inspiring. Thanks for sharing with RMC readers. Maybe this will inspire others to adopt a raise a reader project.
      Single moms have so many things on their plate. What an excellent group to target. My local teachers’ federation has a project where they visit new mom’s and leave them a children’s picture book and a brochure outlining the importance of reading to your kids. Both the visit and the gift are much appreciated by new moms.

      glennon recently posted…A Reason Your House May Be CleanMy Profile

  8. I have always read to my kids even when they was only weeks old. We always do homework( now that my oldest two are in school.), eat supper and then we take our baths get in our jammies and we sit in my bed and read atleast a book a night. Unless it’s been a very busy day and we are very tired. I usually read to them show the pictures and point out stuff for my youngest two. We always talk about the story as we are reading ( what would you enjoy most as a princess? What do you think will happen next?). My oldest two sometimes read the story at night. ( I noticed my youngest two(twins) love when their sisters read so we let them pick the book or even get out the their books and they read to us naming things(dog,cat. Etc)) I love to read and I think my oldest has for sure taken that up. As far as handling it we always try to stick to our routine. They are not forced to read if they want to lay in moms bed and listen or read they can but if they want to go on to bed or watch tv until bedtime then that is fine. (majority of the nights they chose to listen to a story). In my opinion reading is fun and exciting and try to make it that way for my girls. 

  9. Alexandra Clatterbuck

    I would love to win The Velveteen Rabbit to give to my son for his 2nd birthday. We read a book every night before bed and he absolutely loves it! I would love to make this classic book a special present for him =)

  10. I have always enjoyed reading books ever since I was a kid in elementary school. I couldn’t imagine or would want to imagine what it is like to not be able to read.

    Take Care.
    Justin recently posted…Brain Evolution System ReviewMy Profile

  11. I have been reading to my children since i was pregnant with them! They love to read! We read together after bathtime every night for about an hour!

    • Hi Jennifer,

      That is awesome. I have noticed that I am slacked off on fun reading since my child entered the second grade. I will have to get back to it. Gail, writes some of the best articles on reading and literacy with children. This book is one of our favorite books so I was excited to see Gail thought so as well.
      cynthiatw recently posted…Happy National Nothing DayMy Profile

    • Hi Jennifer:

      I love that you read to your unborn children. I forced my sister to do this. Her first born was very high activity (probably HD undiagnosed) and she read to him faithfully while he bounced around his crib. I said, “Just keep reading. He IS listening.”

      By the time he could speak he was finishing Dr. Seuss sentences! I so believe in reading to kids young and often! Thanks for providing real-life corroboration for my research!

      glennon recently posted…Are You Cheating In Your Relationship?My Profile

  12. I would like to read it to my daughter
    allie recently posted…Green Toys 27% – 40% OffMy Profile

    • Good choice, Allie. I am sure your daughter would love to share The Velveteen Rabbit with you. This book is one to revisit as your daughter grows up. Each time it is reread, your child will get something new out of it because she is maturing and her view of the world is changing. I’ve used this book as a novel with twelfth graders.

      Happy reading!
      glennon recently posted…Happy National Nothing DayMy Profile

      • Hi Gail,

        Wow, that is really interesting that you used it with your twelve graders. Since it is a younger child’s book you would not think about using it with a senior in high school. We love this book. When I saw you chose it for our giveaway this month, I was truly excited.
        cynthiatw recently posted…Happy National Nothing DayMy Profile

        • My senior students loved The Velveteen Rabbit, Cynthia. It is because it deals with deep themes like: love and what is real. They followed up the reading of this book by choosing a universal theme and writing a children’s storybook around it. They also looked at themes of: love and loyalty and what is real in classic literature. It was an awesome unit–if I do say so myself!

          Some of the students who were also taking Design and Technology made velveteen rabbits which we combined with copies of the book for children in the critical care unit of a local hospital. We even made the local newspaper.

          Several of the students continued to volunteer in this facility to read to kids once a week. They even created picture books using a specific child as the book’s main character.

          glennon recently posted…Are You Cheating In Your Relationship?My Profile

  13. I would use this book all the time. I have four little girls who would love it!

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