I have always been a reader. Words are a big part of my existence. And, I am not kidding when I say they are a BIG, HUMONGOUS, TREMENDOUS, ENORMOUS, GIGANTIC part of my being. Did I say I love the written word?

I was five years old when I wrote my first story about a little girl who loses her mother and sends a bird to find her. With the help of the bird, she rescues her mother. Ever since, I have not stopped writing poems and stories nearly every day. I spend even more of my awake time reading. Even when I commute to work, I listen to audiobooks.

Fortunately for me, I work as a writer, editor and publisher for an e-learning company developing testing materials for young children. At work, I am always focused on making English Language Arts and Reading engaging for little ones.

About eight years ago, I was worried about the baby I was about to welcome to the world not being a reader. GASP! Would that even be possible? I read to her before she showed up in my arms. And, I did the same for her little sister who followed her to earth. Fast forward to present time, I have two happy little readers.

Today, I want to share with you how you can also raise happy readers.

1. Make books available

Luckily, my friends knew me well and blessed me with volumes of children’s books for my baby shower. They picked their childhood favorite and built a library for my children. I am forever grateful. There is always a book for my children to pick up. Books were their first toys.

2. Make reading fun

Because reading is fun for me, I want my children to enjoy reading, too. I try to make reading playful. When they were babies, my girls were thrilled by my animation and theatrics. You don’t have to put on an opera. Children don’t care how you sound. They only care that you are enjoying reading to them. Fun is contagious that way!

3. Take a book or two along

For children who are easily bored by any waiting time, a book is a perfect solution. Keep some books in the car. Take some with you on road trips or even to the doctor’s or the dentist’s office. All the time spent waiting and whining could be spent reading instead.

Have you checked out audiobooks for children? Many authors have read their books, which can be doubly fun for children. They get to hear the real author and listen to books while they are lounging around the house or riding to and from soccer or dance. I would rather hear Shel Silverstein speak in my car about the tree who loves the boy than to repeat “No. We are not there yet”).

4. Take trips to the library

I am a proud card-carrying member of the library. If you haven’t been to the library lately, you might be blown away by the programs that make being around books irresistible. They have daytime programs for babies and tots and tons of afterschool programs for preschoolers and older kids. My local library has reading kits, robots in briefcases and whatnot. I could write a novel about all the rewards my children received from the Summer Reading Program (like the annual medal from the city mayor and a Super Reader Party), but that is for another day.

5. Let the children pick out books

Little ones LOVE getting to make choices. We don’t always think about how often we tell them what to do and when to do it. So, let them make reading choices from appropriate materials. Take them to the library (there, I speak of my favorite place again) or a used bookstore. Let them browse and choose good books!

6. Get a book for a hobby

My children are into baking—chances are yours are, too. When my girls get to pick out cooking or baking books for children, their eyes light up like it’s their birthday. When they pick a cupcake to bake or popsicle to freeze, they have another book memory to make with me. Whatever their hobby, there’s a book for that. Tools or trucks, brownies or space, explore the children’s hobbies with books.

7. Let them watch book-based shows

All TV-time is educational—so wouldn’t you want to choose what your children are learning. Why not choose book-based shows? You can even invent games like comparing books and movies. Ask them which they liked better and why. You can even get them to read a book to earn movie time.

8. Use technology to your advantage

More than likely, your children already use technology in the classroom or at home. Why not use them to get children to read more? One of the best programs out there is Education Galaxy. It incorporates fun and games to make learning, which includes reading passages (many written by yours truly) an enjoyable experience. Whenever I visit classrooms to talk about work, young students comment that they LOVE hearing content read aloud by children (many recorded by the offspring of yours truly).

9. Lead by example

We’ve all heard it: children copy what you do rather than doing what you say. If you never pick up a book but hound at the children to keep reading, they will take reading as yet another chore. If you also read a book while your little ones are reading, they would want to be just like mommy or daddy. Trust me, it is easier to unwind by reading than to pester and nag unwilling little people about books. You will earn some quiet time as well. What a win-win-win!

I hope you find some of these tips useful. Here’s to happy reading.