Reading expert Ruth Nathan shares tips for kindling a kids' passion for books.
Reading Research Scientist
Dr. Ruth Nathan works at UC Berkeley as a research scientist, but her best job is taking care of her grandchildren. For fun she builds all sorts of gardens and swims as many laps as she can every day. She's the child development editor of Grand Magazine, a magazine for grandparents. Ruth is the author of several books and chapters on literacy.
What were your resolutions last year? If you can't remember, you're not alone. Resolutions are often hastily promised and as quickly forgotten.
As parents, our goal is the same as William Faulkner’s: We want our children to Read, read, read. Read everything. I've put together three easy resolutions that will help you raise a reader. Because they're based on research, you can feel confident that these resolutions will produce results.
Research: Kids really like to choose their own books to read. When kids get to choose, they tend to be more motivated to read. When children have books that suit their age, experience and interests, they learn to love reading.
Resolution: I will take my child to the library or local bookstore at least twice a month and let him or her choose a book—even if it doesn't meet my own literary standards!
Research: Reading aloud to our preschool and elementary children changes their lives forever. Says the famous writer, Mem Fox (Reading Magic, 2008), “Reading aloud to our babies and our young children will make the entire country better off. Governments now realize that by providing attention, time and funds to promoting early literacy, less of their budgets later will need to be spent on illiteracy, crime, depression, unemployment and welfare benefits.”
Resolution: I will read and reread the same book to my child in many different ways. I can read it to my child or with my child. We can act out a small part of fun story. We can talk about what we read, too, and connect to our own experiences.
Research: Children often like to read books that are made into movies, but it’s worth finding out if our child prefers to see the movie first or read the book first. When kids read the book first, they have the enjoyment of visualizing the characters for themselves. On the other hand, some kids find reading a book is easier once they’ve seen the movie.
Resolution: We'll read the book AND watch the movie, in the order my child prefers. And after we've done both, we'll talk about how they were the same and how they were different.
 Meriwether, J. B., & Millgate, M. (Eds.). (1999). Lion in the garden: Interviews with William Faulkner, 1926-1962. Jackson, MS: University of Mississippi Press.