I set a firm foundation for them, beginning when they were very young. When they were about 2, their father and I would take turns reading to them each night before bed. With my boys (twin boys) they adored the baby Clifford board books and we read them so frequently that soon they could recite them by memory. With my daughter, her favorite was always Goodnight Moon. I think we must've read that book a million times!
By age 3, one of my sons was reading on his own. He could read small board books and signs. He'd read labels on food. Really, the kid would read anything he could see. It was truly fascinating to behold at such a young age. His twin brother, wasn't ready to read on his own yet but still loved his night time stories. My daughter was the same way and couldn't read much until starting Kindergarten. We continued our night time ritual of reading stories to the kids until they were in school, at which time we allowed them to start reading to themselves. Once they all mastered reading (which took NO time at all in Kindergarten), they excelled at it, often reading at a much higher level than that of their peers. Not only did they read well but they comprehended the information quite well too.
They are all wonderful readers and love to read now. They follow by example and I think I've set a great example of an avid adult reader for them. They literally see me reading every. single. day. I told them all about my book blog here and about my corresponding Facebook page and they think it's neat. They see that reading and books are something important to me, something I enjoy and have a passion for. I know that whether they realize it or not, this is planting tiny seeds in their head. One day when the wold seems too tough, when they need an outlet, when they need an escape, maybe they'll pick up a book. Maybe they'll remember me and it will help to make things just a little easier for them. Maybe my children will find as much comfort in reading as I do.
A great initiative to teach kids to read is being led by no other than acclaimed author, James Patterson. He not only wants kids to begin reading but wants them to continue reading throughout their lives. He has his own foundation called Read Kiddo Read that donates books to poor schools and kids who may otherwise not have access to reading materials. It also provides lots of educational info on his website for parents and teachers alike.
What I love about this guy is not only an author but a phenomenal one at that. He's written close to 100 books. The first one I ever read was called Honeymoon and I instantly fell in love. It was my first crime novel and honestly, I never thought I'd like something like that. Patterson did an amazing job though and turned me on to a whole new genre of books. He is well known for his adult fiction, mostly thriller novels, however, he has written a handful of romance novels, a couple fiction books, children's books and even a picture book. His children's books began with his Daniel X series and soon moved to writing several other children's book series, including the wildly popular Middle School series.
If you've never read anything by Patterson, I would highly recommend trying one of his books. There's a reason he's consistently on the New York Times' Best Seller list. Buy one of his children's books this holiday season and gift it to a child, maybe even a child that doesn't have access to having his/her own books. Remember what a gift reading is and pass it along to someone else.