[00:00:00] Rowena: Welcome to Two booked Up a podcast about business and personal development books, and the conversations they ignite. I'm Rowena Mabbott. I'm a career in life confidence coach, and I'm also a mom.
[00:00:19] Shelley: And I'm Shelley Tonkin. Smith. I'm a copywriter, entrepreneur, and homeschooling Mom.
[00:00:26] Rowena: As a mom and a bookworm, it's always been quite important to me that my kids love reading. And I know this is a topic that's quite close to your heart too, Shelly, right?
[00:00:36] Shelley: Oh yes, very much so. Uh, reading and connecting over books is such an important part of our home school and just generally life, really. So today we're going to be talking about how you can get your kids to love reading, to get them to identify as readers, that they call themselves readers, and then to create a culture of reading in your home.
Now, If you don't have kids of your own, don't back out of this episode because while the focus is on kids, we're looking more broadly at how you can cultivate that culture of reading in your home. So whatever your home looks like. So if you play any kind of guiding role in a child's life, then they're going to be some fun insights and tips for you in this episode.
And as we talk about helping kids to identify as readers, there'll also be plenty of inspiration for the big people too.
[00:01:32] Rowena: Yes, absolutely. Many of the tips we are going to share here can be applied by people of all ages, and I'm thinking especially for those of you listeners who might like to read more books and reignite your own love of reading as we move into this new year,
[00:01:48] Shelley: Okay, well let's get on with the show we building in the next generation of Two Booked Up listeners!
[00:01:55] The Reading Rebrand
[00:01:55] Rowena: so let's talk about how we can foster a love of reading for our kids. And I'm thinking particularly about those kids who have declared that they hate reading or that reading is boring or that they're just not readers. So how can parents pull things back in this situation?
[00:02:11] Shelley: Yep. So this is a tough situation because you know, we are aiming for kids to love reading, and then they're telling us they hate reading. So it feels like quite a big shift that you have to make, but, I think it's not the reading as such that they hate, but the assigned to novels and the textbooks that they're often forced to read at school.
And so the copywriter in me feels like we need to do a bit of a rebrand of reading in this situation. We've gotta make reading more tempting and delicious for our kids. And I think what's important is that the child needs to choose to read. So their school reading can be very forced in whether they're homeschooled or at a regular school, this applies everywhere.
So we're changing things up in this reading rebrand, and what we are aiming for here is to get our kids reading at leisure and reading for pleasure. .
[00:03:07] Letting go of our reading expectations
[00:03:07] Shelley: So with that in mind, I do think that we need to let go of a few expectations that we might be holding onto.
So there are a lots of academic benefits that come with reading, but I'd like us as parents to just just chill out about that side of reading and instead in this reading rebrand, let's get... Let's make reading fun. Let's make it a pleasurable thing that you do as a leisure activity and, and something that your kids really want to do and choose to do.
So for example, I found myself thinking, "Oh, my kids need to read a lot of books to be a reader." And then of course, my follow on from that is "my child needs to read faster." Honestly, I know a few adults who are actually very slow readers, and if they finish just one book over a holiday, that's, that's a lot. Um, but they're still very much readers and they themselves would identify as readers.
And honestly, I'm quite on the slow side when it comes to reading, but I do feel like being a slow reader makes me remember a lot more from at book. So your kids or you, if the applies to you, you don't have to read a lot of books to be a reader. There's no race here. But you'll find with your kids and with you as your love of reading grows, they'll probably increase their reading naturally.
So Ro, what about you? Have you had to let go of some expectations when it comes to encouraging your kids to read?
[00:04:45] Don't worry about reading "worthy" books only
[00:04:45] Rowena: Oh yes, Shelly. Well, you know, as an upholder, expectations are everywhere. And I guess one of the big expectations that I think can come up with this idea of wanting our kids to read the so-called kind of the worthy books, the classics, or at least good quality literature. And so this is something I brought up in episode 10 about how to read more as an adult because maybe eventually your kids will wanna pick up A Tale of Two Cities or The Hobbit or something like that of their own volition.
But from my experience with my teen and tween, they might have to get there via Captain Underpants, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, the 13 Storey Treehouse, and all these so-called easier books like graphic novels, picture books, which of course are a whole thing on themselves and they're brilliant. But even audio books might fit into this category.
And when we might look, we might look down on these types of books or ways of reading, but I actually think we make a big mistake when we do that.
[00:05:43] Shelley: Oh yes. Tell me about it. My son considers himself a reader, and I do too. He is a total reader. His recent favorite is a Minecraft fan fiction series that he's listening to on audiobook, called Diary of an Eight Bit Warrior. It's not high literature for sure, but he is loving it. And, and now after a lot of begging, he's convinced me to use our next Audible credit to buy the next three pack of books in the series.
So I'm like, okay, well at least we're getting three books for our one credit. But in between all the Minecraft Audibles, some are also free on the, membership. But in between those Minecraft audibles on his audible listing, you'll find books like EB Whites, Trumpet of the Swan, and Charlotte's Web.
There's also Kate DiCamillo's Flora and Ulysses, uh, which I will tell you that would introduce the word "capacious" into my son's vocabulary. He like was using it in a sentence. I did not know what it meant. But a person who is capacious of heart has a big heart. They're very sensitive, they're very caring, and I'm like, this is so wonderful.
This came up through a book. So there's lots of other beautiful books. I think of Cressida Cowell's how To Train Your Dragon Series has been a favorite. The Ramona Quimby series by Beverly Cleary. I could go on, uh, but. Much better quality books. And suffice to say that the more candy floss types of books have a good job in getting the kids hooked on books.
And then they can, and they will broaden their taste from there.
[00:07:19] Rowena: And I absolutely can assure you that they do. So speaking of Minecraft, my tween -- and my teen -- to be fair, both of them have read plenty of Minecraft books and sadly we even own some. Um, they did tend to read more towards the how to rather than fan fiction. Although I do believe Diary of an Eight Bit Warrior may well have been one of our library borrows at some point.
But my tween is now a prolific reader of World War ii, Historical fiction. Um, historical nonfiction, sorry, and fiction. But he's also been a big fan of books like the Treehouse series, The Diary of a Wimpy Kid over the years. And so it, they do get there. The key thing is that they're reading books. And let me just add that this completely applies to us as adults too.
Read what you like. I will tell you unashamedly that there are a few good escapist romance novels in the list of over 100 books I read in 2022. After all, as adults, just like our kids, we wanna read different things at different times. Sometimes we want high litera. Other times we want the equivalent of an airplane paper back, but Shelly, before you ask me a follow up question about that, I wanna pick up on two things you've said here.
One is that it sounds like your son is listening to a lot of audiobooks, but first, let's talk about that list of titles you just rattled off, which I'm sure we'll be putting in the show notes.
[00:08:40] How do you find good books for your kids to read?
[00:08:40] Rowena: But the question is, how do you find good books for your kids to read?
[00:08:46] Shelley: Yes. I'm so glad you asked me this question. I think once you've let go of those expectations that you hold in that reading must be educational with a capital E and you've embraced the idea that you want your kids to read for leisure and pleasure, then you've gotta draw them in with some books that you pretty sure that they'll like, but also that are expanding their taste.
So I really like this idea of being a book matchmaker for your child. So you know your child, what they like, what they dislike, what appeals to them. I've mentioned before, my son will not read books about orphans, but he has a little friend who, even in her pretend play, always incorporates orphans into her pretend play because she loves classics, books like The Secret Garden, and so those ones often involve orphans, and this makes its way into her pretend play. So have a look and see what kind of things appeal to your kids. I, for example, know that my boys love a bit of fantasy, humor, toilet or otherwise, stories that involve an unlikely hero.
And so use that kind of knowledge and then match your kids up with a book. And the good news is you don't have to retrain as a librarian to get this right, but one of your first stops could well be the library where you could ask the librarian for recommendations based on this rough criteria that you've got for your child.
But then my next favorite place to look for book recommendations is on book lists. So there are many bloggers and organizations that have put together book lists. They'll categorize them by genres or types of books or themes. I'll tell you where I've found some great recommendations and great lists.
Read Aloud Revival by Sarah McKenzie. It's my top choice. So she has got a wonderful book list, which is for free on her website, readaloudrevival.com. And her podcast is also really amazing. She's also written a book called The Read Aloud Family, which has a printed book list at the back part of the book.
Then there's Everyday Reading, by Janssen Bradshaw and she was a children's librarian and so she's also put together different book lists in different categories and I found her emails are really helpful. Then Twinkl, some of you might have heard of Twinkl the educational resource site.
They've got a book list, which I'll link to in the shownotes. Some of those are perhaps also easier to access in Australia and South Africa with, um, Twinkle being a more international site. And then I have got a little WhatsApp group that I've started with a bunch of homeschool parents where we share book and game recommendations.
So, perhaps that's something you either wanna find, if someone in your area has got such a group or, um, you wanna start something like that. And I'm gonna be putting a lot of the recommendations that we get on that WhatsApp group onto my website, shelleytonkinsmith.Com in the future. So keep your eyes peeled there.
And then finally, Ask your friends, ask your family, borrow and lend books and give and receive recommendations. So our little homeschool co-op, we will do a little book swap at the end of our co-op time. And our boys love getting recommendations. They've got some pen pals in the US. That's where we got Diary of an Eight Bit Warrior as a recommendation and then we pass on our recommendation.
And I find that, you know, even over the miles there's this lovely connection that happens over books. Again, you can apply this to your reading life as an adult too, so you can sign up for a site like Good Reads can be really useful, or even I've just found on Amazon itself is pretty good at giving me recommendations.
For better or worse, Amazon knows me too well, so seek out those recommendations so that you kind of know when you try out a book, if it's gonna be a good read or not.
[00:12:44] Rowena: Wow. So there are a lot of places where parents can find recommendations for books that their kids might like. And I do love the way your boys and their pen pals connect over books. I have a similar story, which I'll share in a minute, but I just wanna reiterate what Shelly said there. The suggestions she's just run through, which are fabulous.
They do apply just as much to adults. We can approach librarians, we can check out book lists on good reads, um, because there's a lot of different ways we can find books that we will resonate with.
So for us as a family, my kids, my teen, and my tween, our local library was absolute gold when my kids were younger.
The children's librarians especially were an excellent resource of suggestions. They were, we would go every single week. So they got to know my kids, they'd greet them by name and they'd say, "Oh, you liked this one. How did you like this one?" And then they would suggest another author that the boys might like, which I thought was really lovely.
So if you've got a local library nearby, it's a really fabulous resource. And you might even find some new reads and maybe the children's librarian will befriend you as well, like as a little bonus.
And as I mentioned, like your boys, Shelly, my boys have also found some great new authors via recommendations from friends and family.
So my mom and my sister have gifted books for both my boys that have ended up being absolute firm favorites. And even a few times, my nephew, who's nine months older than my youngest child, has often recommended certain fiction books. And then my child has read it. And vice versa with my eldest boy recommending books to his younger cousin.
And what I love the most that makes my book-loving heart absolutely sing is when they FaceTime together because they are in a different state and they'd chat about the book together. Ah, it makes them mommy so happy. It's so cool.
[00:14:27] Reading aloud to your kids.
[00:14:27] Rowena: So you might have found a book or two that you think your child would like, but then Shelly, the question is, how do you actually get your kids to start reading, especially if they're reluctant readers?
[00:14:38] Shelley: Yeah, so for my six and nine year old son, my go-to way of making them fall in love with a book is to read it aloud to them. And Ro I just love read aloud so much. I, I've been so inspired by Sarah McKenzie at Read Aloud Revival and reading aloud is a standard part of our homeschool day, but even before we started homeschooling, it's always been a part of our bedtime routine.
And really there's nothing to it other than choosing a great book, sitting down and reading. And this is when you can also choose those books that are maybe just stretching your kids taste a little bit, because now you are presenting this book to them and reading it to them. And like for us, we sit on the couch, me in the middle with my two boys cuddling up next to me on each side.
I mean, I know this is an idyllic situation that will not last. So I'm lapping it up during this gorgeous season of life.
[00:15:31] Rowena: Enjoy it. Enjoy it.
[00:15:35] Shelley: the teenagers are coming. But I will say that it's not always this way. And I also don't require my kids to just sit and stare at the book while I'm reading. In fact, lately our bedtime at, at bedtime, we , my boys have taken to practicing in their karate katas, uh, while either I or my husband is reading to them.
So it looks like they're not listening. I have realized that they totally are. They'll remember things that I've even forgotten when I've gone into autopilot reading mode — you can do that . And there's even research to suggest that giving kids something to do while they're being read to helps memory, retention and engagement.
So like just playing with a fidget toy or, or drawing something, or it seems even doing karate
[00:16:25] Rowena: I love that they do karate while you read to them. That's hilarious. But it does absolutely make sense to me as well that you know when you're doing something else whilst listening to something. Listening to a book, you actually retain it better because I love listening to my audio books while I'm walking the dog.
And I do find that the audio books that I listen to when I'm doing something that's relatively mindless, like walking the dog, I actually retain the information a lot better. And I think there's something, there's nothing wrong with kids doing something else whilst they're listening to you read aloud.
[00:16:55] What about reading aloud to older kids?
[00:16:55] Rowena: Um, and I can also hear that you are very passionate about reading aloud, but what about the older kids who can read themselves?
[00:17:03] Shelley: So, yeah, so teenager I'm sure is gonna want the ground to open up and swallow them if you suddenly want to read them a bedtime story. But I think I would like to say here, don't automatically stop reading aloud to your child just because they can read themselves, stretch out that read aloud phase for as long as possible.
Uh, you'll be able to read more complex books aloud to your kids when they get stuck into the early readers. So like for example, now, my boys, in addition to their reading curriculum, kind of graded readers, they're, they're reading a series called Dory Fantasmagory, also a recommendation from our pen pals in the US.
And they each reading one of those books on their own. Uh, In print and at the same time I'm reading Kate DiCamillo's The Tale of Despereaux to them aloud and my husband is reading them Knock Three Times, which is part of Cressida Cowell's The Wizards of Once series. So look out for those opportunities to diversify and, and keep reading aloud for as long as you possibly can.
There are lots of benefits to hearing a book being read aloud. And so, yes. On that note, we are gonna take a quick break and then after that row I wanna know from you, since you're the one with an actual teenager, uh, some of your tips for encouraging reading with our older kids.
[00:18:28] Rowena + Shelley: As you think about the new year, are you feeling the need to make some changes? Would you like to start a business or launch an offer in your current business? Do you need some help with planning your year and setting some goals that feel great to you? If so, we can help.
As a career and life confidence coach Rowena can help you to clarify your goals and support you as you take action towards achieving them.
She can also help you to plan your year or your first quarter using her Design Your Season approach. Now, I've worked with Rowena as my coach before and I can say that her calm approach and the clarity she brings us something special. You can learn more about the ways in which you can work with email@example.com, and then book a complimentary consultation call to discuss the coaching package and strategy that would be most beneficial for you.
And for those of you looking for magical copywriting that promotes your business and essentially sells your offer while you are sleeping, then Shelley is the lady you are looking for. Visit ShelleySmithCreative.com to see Shelley's full suite of copywriting services, and if you're looking to launch a digital product like an ebook or an online workshop in 2023, then I'd recommend booking and Ask Me Anything Call with Shelly and she'll give you individualized advice on your product and your tech so you can launch with confidence.
[00:20:01] How can we encourage our teens to read for leisure and pleasure?
[00:20:01] Shelley: So tell us about those teenagers. How can parents of teens encourage them to read for leisure and pleasure?
[00:20:09] Rowena: Okay. Well my teens and my tween love reading, so I've not really had to spend a lot of time actively encouraging them, but I have heard other moms sharing that food works for them. They offer snacks while the kids are reading. So in my house, we have fun connecting our dinner with the book or the books or reading.
For example, when my son was reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid, he loved the idea of burgers, roasts, or even soup for dinner, as that was what Greg Heffley's family had. So using food was a great way to open up the conversation about reading and connect with my son.
So personally, Shelly, I've found that with teenagers we need to be less concerned about what they're reading and focus on whether they're reading.
So similar to the younger kids, for my teen boy, it's about finding books that he wants to read rather than books someone else. And that could be me, a grandparent, or even a well-meaning teacher thinks he should read. And I emphasize should there. Because the shoulds, as we know, really don't work very well for teens or for most of us.
So my older boy, he loves dystopian future fiction and will happily read an entire book in one sitting when the book is interesting to him. He also plays cricket and enjoys watching the sport too. So for a period of quite a few months, he read a lot of cricket autobiographies. We were down at the library every single week and he was borrowing like two or three very hefty tomes each time and read the whole lot each week. It was amazing.
Now personally, neither dystopian futures nor cricket autobiographies are really books that kind of interest me at all, but he loved them and most importantly, he was reading.
So the next thing I'd say is look for opportunities to connect experiences and outings with the book as well.
So as I've mentioned, my younger son has a very strong interest in World War II and is a prolific reader of history books covering that time period. The knowledge and detail he recalls is amazing. So from that interest, or based on that interest, we traveled interstate to visit the Australian War Memorial, which.
I don't know whether I'm proud to say this or sad to say this. It actually fed his passion even more. And now he is the very proud owner of very many large coffee table size books that are all about World War ii. And he sits at the dinner table or the breakfast table or any other time, and he will prop them up and read them, which is fabulous, but also occasionally just a smidge and annoying because I'm wanting him to like eat his breakfast and get ready for school. So . So it's great though, like I'm not gonna complain about the fact that he's reading, cuz after all that's what we want.
But, so I think if in summary, I think teens, the best thing is to connect the book with something they already love and are interested in. And that is truly the best way to encourage reading, especially for those who are reluctant readers.
And like I mentioned in episode 10, about how we can read more. Screens can help. I don't usually subscribe to this view, but I think watching a movie or a TV series and then following it up with the book can be a great way to encourage kids to try reading who might have lost the habit or maybe never really had the habit.
So, for example, my youngest child has been reading, but he's not always a big fan of reading fiction. He just loves nonfiction. He's always wanting to read a fact book as he calls them. But we've been watching the Ring of Power on Amazon with my husband and I, so the three of us watch it and it's inspired my youngest child to want to read The Hobbit, which we referenced earlier as the world's created by Tolkien now feel more for familiar to him.
So we've moved out of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid stage and we are... he is voluntarily asking to read The Hobbit. And what I love is that because the rest of us, the whole family have read The Hobbit, we can talk about it around the dinner table.
So, which reminds me, a lot of my friends with similar aged kids have had success with this kind of idea where they read the same book as their child and then kind of talk about it like a book club kind of thing but within the family.
Now, Shelly, that's also what I'm kind of hearing too, regarding your experience with reading with your younger kids. You're creating this very friendly atmosphere around books and reading. It's not something you get tested on or quizzed on. It's just part of your family life and the things you do together.
So that's the same in our family. So reading is something we do together, but also individually. So as a family of readers, as I mentioned, reading a book whilst eating our weekend lunch is a very strong Mabbott household tradition. Look around and everybody's got a book whilst they're eating their toasted sandwich.
Its quite heartwarming unless you wanna have a conversation and then everybody's too busy with their nose in a book.
And I guess this is my last point on this one, which is, here's where modeling, being a reader to our kids is really important.
So if you want your kids to be readers, they need to see you reading. So when you have a few minutes of free time, skip the social media scroll or checking your emails, even skip tidying up or doing the dishes, and all those other things that demand our attention and read. Especially when your kids are watching, but even if they're not, talk to them about the book you're reading and what's standing out for you.
And if you need any more encouragement for your own reading life, I'll again refer you back to episode 10 of two booked up where we go deeper into how to get into your own reading.
[00:25:31] Audiobooks for kids
[00:25:31] Rowena: So Shelley, before we wrap things up, I do wanna circle back to audiobooks now. In our previous episode, we discussed audiobook versus printed books, but just briefly do audiobooks count as part of your kids' reading life?
[00:25:46] Shelley: Oh, Rowena. I think you know the answer to that one. Absolutely. Yes. Uh, but I do think many parents feel like listening to audio books is somehow cheating or not really reading the book, and that's not at all the case. There's a lots of benefit to hearing a book read aloud. And I also think audio books are particularly great for those kids who are developing readers or late readers or even have a diagnosis of dyslexia or another processing differnce. Audio books open up the world of stories to these kids. They can read with their ears. But these books that are also appropriate to their age and their interests, and then not find themselves stuck reading only these easy reading readers. I mean, that's not fun and it's not honoring to the child.
So if there's one takeaway from this whole episode, I think it's that we have to make reading fun. We're rebranding reading into something really fun from something that was maybe intimidating or boring or forced. And we are now creating an activity that opens up the world that makes connections and that yes, overall is super, super fun.
[00:26:58] Rowena: I love that. The love the reading rebrand, and so there you have it.
Now I'm gonna do the honors to tie things up with some key takeaways. So listeners, here are our top five takeaways. Reading for leisure and pleasure is really important and beneficial for kids. So let go of those expectations that reading should always be Educational with Capital E.
Number two, take on the role of Book Matchmaker for your child. Use any of the book lists we've shared here. You'll find links in the show notes to find a book you think your child will enjoy. Number three, read aloud to your kids. And remember that audio books absolutely count as reading. If that's what works, do it.
Number four, pair reading with experiences your child enjoys. So you could try food, you can do outings and adventures or TV shows and movies. And number five, model being a reader to your kids. Skip the scrolling and read instead.
[00:28:02] Shelley: Ah, yes. Thanks so much for that summary, Rowena and listeners, thank you for tuning in today. If you enjoy today's episode, please can we ask you to leave a positive rating and review on Apple or Spotify. This will be so encouraging to us and it helps us spread the word about the Two Booked Up podcast with other people who will enjoy it.
[00:28:24] Rowena: And please tell your friends about two booked up and get them to subscribe or follow. The more people who subscribe, the better Apple knows that we are sharing good stuff over here. So share the podcast from wherever you are listening now, or send your friends over to twobookedup.com.
[00:28:39] Shelley: You can also connect with us at our online homes. My copywriting services are at shelleysmithcreative.com, and you can sign up for my newsletter and find my writing on all things entrepreneurship, homeschooling, and the Playful life at shelleytonkinsmith.Com. Also, come chat to me on Twitter.
I'm ShelleyTSmith and Rowena can be found at rowenamabbott.com and on Instagram at RowenaMabbott.
[00:29:04] Rowena: Yes, so go and find us online and then let us know your top takeaways from this
[00:29:10] Shelley: episode.
and which books your kids are reading with their eyes or their ears. Thanks so much for joining us today on Two Booked Up. Goodbye for now, and happy reading to you and your kids.