Children who enjoy books make better readers and better overall students. Take our quiz to learn whether you're doing all you can to raise a book lover.
1. How many books are in your child's room?
a. Fewer than the number of shoes in my closet.
b. None. Books are shelved in the family library.
c. Approaching the number of books in the children's section of our public library.
1. The best answer is c. Immerse your child in books and have a variety on hand for whenever he's in the mood to read. Keeping books in your child's room, along with toys and games, reinforces reading as a fun activity. If you don't want to spend money on new books, shop at used book stores or stock up at the library.
2. What do you usually do when your child has free time?
a. Read together for a while, then have him read or flip through books on his own.
b. Encourage him to go play so I can have a minute to myself.
c. Suggest that he watch TV.
2. The best answer is a. Encourage your child to read whenever he has some downtime or is bored. You may face some tough competition from the television set, but at least try to set aside some time every evening for books. Reading with your child is a great way to share a fun experience and introduce your child to more challenging material. Try to spend part of the time reading to your child, and if he's able, also encourage him to read alone or read to you.
3. When do you read books?
a. After my child is asleep – it's the only quiet time I have all day.
b. I don't have time to read.
c. In front of my child, whenever I can.
3. Your child wants to be just like you. If you read in front of her and keep novels and books around the house, your child will want to read too.
4. When was the last time you took your child to the library?
a. It's been so long I can't remember.
b. Last week.
c. Sometime during the last three months or so.
4. The best answer is b. Go to the library as often as your child wants to (within reason, of course). It's a good way for him to try out new books and authors, and it's free! If you make regular trips, you can also check bulletin boards for upcoming library events, such as story times and book clubs. Make your child feel like a regular, and get him a library card in his own name.
5. If your child only wanted to read or look at comic books, what would you do?
a. Say no and encourage a quality book instead.
b. Say, "Great!" and only buy her comics.
c. Encourage her to keep reading, and introduce a few graphic novels or more challenging books.
5. Your job is to make reading fun and teach your child to love books. If comic books are doing the trick, by all means encourage them, but continue to offer a variety of reading material. Jane Yolen, noted author of at least 300 picture books for children and novels for young adults, wrote her first graphic novel at age 70. There's more to comics these days than "Pow!" and "Shazam!"
6. What do you do when your child picks out books that are too difficult?
a. Explain that the book is too advanced and put it back on the shelf.
b. Read the book quickly to my child, skimming over hard words and advanced concepts, and then move on to easier books.
c. Read the book with my child, explaining the hard words and discussing the story as we go.
6. Encourage your child to try any book that's interesting, even if it seems too difficult. You can always read these more difficult books to your child. Take the opportunity to introduce new words, and discuss the story as you go to make sure your child comprehends it. If it seems too hard for him to understand, set it aside and try it again later in the year.
7. If your child wants to hear the same story over and over again (even though you're losing your mind), what do you do?
a. Pretend to lose the book.
b. Read it as often as my child wants to hear it but suggest other books as well.
c. Tell my child I'll read the book only once a week.
7. Children who are learning to read like repetition, rhymes, and word patterns, and they love to hear books repeatedly. Indulge them. This repetition helps your child memorize the story, which is an important part of learning to read. Encourage your child to finish some of the sentences in the book or to "read" entire passages from memory.
8. If your child doesn't feel like reading, what do you do?
a. Require at least 30 minutes of reading a night, no matter what.
b. Take my child to the library and bookstore to look for books that appeal to her interests.
c. Let it go and figure the problem will take care of itself.
8. Your child may be avoiding books because she hasn't found any that engage her. Show her that reading can provide information about whatever she's interested in – dinosaurs, cars, fairy godmothers, movie stars, magic tricks – and she'll be turning pages in no time!
Or try engaging her in activities that encourage reading, like reading a recipe and cooking together, reading the instructions to assemble a model or other toy, or using a reference book to look up facts about a favorite animal or learn more about a shell she collected at the beach.
A child who doesn't love books and reading may eventually have problems in school, so don't ignore her lack of interest. Also consider having her eyesight checked. Vision problems can make reading frustrating.
9. Which of the following best describes your child's favorite book?
a. It's falling apart because we read it every night.
b. I don't know. My child does most of his reading at school.
c. It's at the library. I don't want my child to read the same book over and over.
9. If you've been reading to your child since he was a baby, you should have a couple of books that are well worn by now. (For example, Eric Carle's Very Hungry Caterpillar is a favorite of 1-year-olds and kindergartners alike.) Because memorization is an important part of learning to read, continue to read old favorites until your child says he's had enough.
10. How often do you read with your child?
a. Once a week or less.
b. Wherever and whenever she wants to.
c. One hour every night, whether she wants to or not.
10. Reading should be part of everyday life, so try to make room for it in your child's daily routine with a book or two just before bedtime or right after dinner. But don't force your child to read if she's not in the mood. Reading should be fun, not a chore or an assignment.
For more great ideas on raising a child who loves books, see our comprehensive reading areas: