Eight Ways for Parents and Teachers to Foster Wild & Lifelong Reading Habits
by Donalyn Miller
1. Model daily reading habits. As literacy expert Stephen Krashen reminds us, “Children read more when they see other
people reading.” Talk with children about what you are reading and why you find reading personally interesting and
2. Set aside time for daily reading. If we value reading, we must make time for it. Children who read at least 20
minutes a day score in the top range on reading tests and express more motivation and interest in reading. Even short
blocks of time every day are better than bursts of reading on a occasional basis.
3. Carry a book with you everywhere. When packing for trips or running errands, throw books and magazines into the
suitcase or back seat. Carrying something to read helps ward off “reading emergencies”—those times when you are stuck
waiting without anything to do. The number one way adult readers rack up reading time is stealing short reading breaks
in between other obligations. Carrying a book with you shows children how to steal this reading time.
4. Provide a wide variety of reading material. Fiction and nonfiction, print and online magazines, graphic novels
and comics—children need access to lots of texts that match their interests and reading ability. You never know what
book or topic might engage a child with reading.
5. Read aloud with children. Sharing books with children—even teenagers—reinforces that reading is important and
something you find personally rewarding. Through reading aloud, you send pleasure messages about reading and can share
books with children that they might not be able to read on their own. With older children, reading together can provide
a launching point for discussions and help you connect on a regular basis. Burdened with homework and after school
activities, many teens stop reading for pleasure. Reading together can keep them invested.
6. Visit the library often. Beyond free access to thousands of books, libraries offer qualified librarians and staff
who can help match reading material to your child’s interest and locate online and print resources to support children’s
needs. Most libraries host reading events and programs like summer reading clubs, too.
7. Celebrate all reading. Children read more when they are given choices in what they read. When reading for
pleasure, children should control their own book selection with your personal limits on content and topics the only
restrictions. Do not push children to read harder books, abandon picture books and comics, or limit their choices by
reading levels when selecting pleasure reading books at the library or bookstore.
8. Limit screen time. The more time children spend using electronic devices and watching television, the less they
read. While children need digital literacy skills, reading websites and surfing online don’t provide the same vocabulary
development or reading stamina that reading books and magazines do. If children read e-books on electronic devices, shut
off Internet access and limit other features during daily reading time.