A few weeks ago, my husband and I put the kids to bed early. Both were overtired, and we gave them strict instructions: Lights out, no talking, straight to sleep. Much later, when we went upstairs to check on them, we found tell-tale evidence they’d disobeyed. Each kid had fallen asleep with a flashlight on and a fat book on the floor nearby.
“You must be so proud,” my husband said.
And it’s true, I kind of was. I can’t tell you how often people hear that I’m a writer and feel compelled to share that they don’t really read, and neither do their kids. Or tell me they wish their children read more. Or tell me they are writing their first novel, but they don’t have time to read.
So here’s my list of tips on how to create readers from your own kids, your nieces and nephews, your neighbor’s children down the street. Think of it as an investment in your work — somebody has to buy the book you are writing, right? And along the way, you may find new ways to squeeze in additional reading time yourself — which can help you learn more about pacing, voice, technique, and all the other aspects of great writing.
There’s power in numbers (or, embrace the clutter). As I write this, Donna Karan’s face is staring up at me from the kitchen table — I’m reading her autobiography as research for a novel idea I’m toying with. There’s a Diary of a Wimpy Kid book on the center island — one of my son’s go-to favorites whenever he finishes reading something new. There’s a stack of magazines on the living room coffee table, and I’m honestly afraid to look under my daughter’s bed because the books there may be the only thing holding it up. Sometimes when I’m being particularly sneaky and there’s a book I want them to read, I’ll leave it in the back of the car — they’ll read anything in an attempt to avoid the ‘How was your day?’ conversation!
The more books you have around, the more varied they are, the more likely it is someone will pick one up, even for a moment, and get hooked. It may not make for the tidiest house, but it does create a well-read one. [Read more…]