Encourage your children to read more by leaving good books laying around in conspicuous places about the house. They won’t even know they are learning!
Your home should be an environment of learning. It is important to create an “atmosphere” of education by purposefully placing educational items about the home – things like maps, science paraphernalia, and perhaps most importantly, BOOKS! All of these things should flow and mesh so well within the context of your home that your children have no idea where school begins and where school ends.
Books are so important to a child’s upbringing because once a child is reading well, the world opens up to them via the written word! They can learn about places they have never been to, concepts they have never heard before, and they can begin to dig deep into God’s Word to help them see the bigger picture of their lives and the God who created them!
But sometimes kids get in a rut, or they struggle to find enjoyment in the act of reading, or they simply don’t think to pick up a book. We have to get creative – especially in a culture that has so many things vying for our child’s attention.
One fantastic tactic to guide children toward reading for pleasure is very subtle, yet very powerful. We can help them to see books as worthwhile companions by leaving good books laying around the house for them to happen upon. This works so much better than trying to force reading on our children – particularly our struggling readers.
It’s their discovery – their adventure – their idea!
The photo above is my 2 year old who found one of her sister’s Sonlight books in a book basket in my bedroom! She LOVES this book! She will lay on my bed and “read” it over and over! All because I had the Sonlight books laying around!
Want to learn more SONLIGHT? CLICK HERE!
The practice of leaving good books laying around started years ago because at every homeschool conference we attended my husband would find books of interest that had nothing to do with our curriculum. They were “good reads” and worth owning, but I knew I couldn’t easily incorporate them into our homeschool day.
Rather than shelve them and quickly forget about them, I would randomly leave a few out here and there. We noticed how our children immediately latched onto the books we were leaving around the house. We would find them quietly reading in a corner, thumbing through the pictures in their bedrooms, or taking in a few paragraphs at the dinner table. It was a fascinating experiment that led to us taking the opportunity to leave even more books out in even more places about the house!
Funny Story: When my son went to college, he purchased all of his books for the semester and promptly came back and read through nearly all of them before classes started! They were just sitting there begging to be read!
My favorite place to leave books laying around is the dining room table. Anything I want the kids to read without me forcing them to read it, goes in the middle of the dining room table. They will see it and they will read it. Not because anyone “told” them to, but because it is there and it looks interesting. This happens most often right before school starts. I call people to the table, and as we are waiting for the stragglers, the children who are already there pick up a book and start reading, or at the very least, begin looking at the photographs or illustrations.
Note: Don’t worry if your children appear to engage only with the pictures in a book. That’s a step in the right direction! Don’t discourage them from doing this because picture books spark imagination and eventually help lead your children to the words out of sheer curiosity!
I leave everything from newspaper clippings and magazine articles to unit study books and juvenile fiction just laying around all over the place. And guess what?! My kids are avid readers because of it!
Another Funny Story: When we moved a few years ago, my older kids kept getting sidetracked from packing because of the newspapers we were using as packing paper! I would find them hiding behind moving boxes READING rather than packing!
Another trick I learned is to make your books a part of the decor of your home. Coffee table books are called such for a reason, but I don’t have a coffee table, so I purchased easels that hold all different sizes of books and put them on top of bookshelves, on end tables, in bedrooms and bathrooms!
Here is an example of one such decorative book in our home:
I got this book from the library, and after we read it, I put it on an easel on our bookshelf. This encourages the kids to read it again! In fact, I ALWAYS put the books we read in school out in the living room and dining room when we finish them so the kids will take a closer look at the books (if I don’t wait until we finish the book, I will not be able to find it!).
Here are a few easel ideas from Amazon:
Where else can you leave good books laying around?
- the end table
- the bathroom
- in the van
- in your kids’ crates/workboxes
- on your kids’ beds
- in a box similar to our library box
- on the dining room table
- on top of the bookshelf
- in your diaper bag (for those times when you are out and about and the kids are “bored”)
- in a basket near their chairs
- on their chairs!
- on top of their phones or tablets!
You get the idea!
Bonus Tip: Do you get a little twitchy at the thought of leaving books out creating “messes?” Keep them contained in a basket or box! Move the basket around from room to room, rotating which book is at the front to encourage the kids to see the basket with fresh eyes!
Remember, the idea behind leaving good books laying around is not to create a mess, but to create a rich educational environment that encourages your family to read more and to stop seeing school as only contained in certain hours of the day. There’s no need to nag your children to read more when you subtly leave books out for them to discover on their own!