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Create a Reader-Friendly Home

Our guest Dr. Colleen Carroll of Innovative Reading shares how to create a reader-friendly home.

Creating nooks for tablets, books and kids cozying up to reading

Look around your home. Go ahead – take a stroll through each room and ask yourself as you wander around, “Does my home invite my child to read?”

reading on rocker boardsAs you do this, be sure to change your lens for the moment. Instead of a parent lens, the one that measures every area for its tidiness, efficiency, and decorative style, view your home instead through the eyes of a child, particularly one that avoids reading.

Now, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does my home have areas that are cozy and that a child can curl up and be comfortable?
  • Does my home have quiet places, away from the sounds of a TV, loud conversations, or other noisy distractions?
  • Are there areas my child can read where there are no electronic gadgets? (TV, computer, etc.)
  • Are there cozy areas that include spaces for books and other reading materials to be displayed?
  • Do we keep reading materials out and available for my child to access readily (instead of always “tidying up” and moving reading materials out of site).
  • Do we include words, letters, comics, poems, and other fun sources of writing around in our home?
  • Do we make distractions like video games hard to access while making reading materials easy to reach?
  • Is my child’s bedroom a no TV zone?

If you answered “Yes!” to any of the above questions, you are on your way to creating a reader-friendly environment. Kudos to you – I bet your child is benefitting from this effort by feeling an invitation to read and interact with words.

After the assessment, did you determine that you need to take it up a few reader-friendly notches? Don’t worry! Follow these quick tips on how you can alter just a few things fast and rearrange with ease to get your child wrestling with words and loving it!

Top 10 tips to creating cozy nooks and book havens right at home without spending lots of time or money:

  1. Look for spaces you already have that just need a little tweaking to improve. Is there already a child-sized chair in the corner? Be sure to surround it with books and toss a throw on the arm to up the inviting-ness.
  2. Have an empty basket sitting around? Fill it with books, magazines, comics, graphic novels, printed items off the web and anything else you find that is readable. Put that basket out for your to child trip over (err, I mean find) so it’s super easy to access.
  3. No perfect child chair right now? No problem! Throw some brightly colored pillows on the grown-up easy chair to size it down for kids. If your kids are really little, position a step stool to the side for easy climbing.
  4. Where are the video games and other distracting devices? If they are within easy arms’ reach of your child, get them out of there and into someplace harder to reach. Use a closet, a storage bin, an armoire or anyplace that will take just a little more effort to play them and insist they are returned after each (time-limited) session. Think to yourself what you’d choose if the cookies were always easier to grab than the carrots…
  5. Make your child’s room a TV free zone. Be sure there is a bookcase instead, or at least a stack of books/magazines/readable stuff someplace in view. If your child is younger, decorate the walls with letters and use an alphabet bedspread.  For older children, consider decal words on the wall, a chalkboard paint wall, posters of popular books (and those turned into movies) and a bedspread with words. Bonus points: Every child should have access to magnetic poetry someplace at home!
  6. Be sure that there is a place in the home where your child can read and relax free from too much noise (think TVs, running appliances, etc.). If that is a challenge due to space, try to carve out some minimal noise times when quietness is preserved and your child can associate reading with relaxing and destressing.
  7. Good lighting in a reading area is essential! Invest in a fluorescent lamp or put some bright LED bulbs into a big table lamp and keep it in the reading zone. The more light, the easier it is on everyone’s eyes (and the longer your child will be able to read as well).
  8. Involve your child in decorating the area. Ask him to pick out some posters or artwork he created to hang in the special spot so it is a meaningful place he associates with positivity.
  9. Vary the text collection and keep it interesting. Be sure to rotate the books and magazines regularly so there is always something fresh and new to read. Also make sure that the choices align to your child’s interests so she’ll gravitate to the topics naturally.
  10. If your child prefers devices, keep a Kindle, Nook or other tablet available with reading material at the ready. This is a perfectly acceptable substitute to paper books and for some kids who are tech-inclined, a preferable option.

Try some or all of these ideas today and see how your child adjusts to his new surroundings! You may include him in the entire process to get his buy-in, or do it on the down-low as a surprise and make him feel special.

Grab your “How to Make your Home Reader-Friendly” CHECKLIST from Dr. Carroll here.


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2 Responses to Create a Reader-Friendly Home

  1. Shannon says:

    Hi there- I’m curious about number ten. It seems that recent studies are suggesting that comprehension is not nearly as deep when material is read on a device. I imagine it’s better than not reading at all, but seems to be a much less desirable alternative?

    • Janet says:

      “10. If your child prefers devices, keep a Kindle, Nook or other tablet available with reading material at the ready. This is a perfectly acceptable substitute to paper books and for some kids who are tech-inclined, a preferable option.”

      Hi Shannon – This is from Dr. Colleen Carroll’s work and I tend to agree with you. If there is trouble getting him to read, I could imagine a Kindle/Nook might be an incentive but I, personally, would tend to use it minimally and only after reading “regular” things. Hope this makes sense. It would be a good question for Dr. Carroll.

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