Our children may not always listen to us, but they never fail to imitate us

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Joan Lunden

Family /


I went to Max and Kate’s first grade Parent Open House the other night and their teachers spent most of the evening talking about the importance of teaching our children to love reading as well as learning the basic reading skills. They stressed to us that creating a love of reading is a shared responsibility between school and home. 

I thought it was very clever when the teachers handed each parent a “Reading Reminder” goodie bag as we left. The bags contained the following:


  • Puzzle Piece: because you are a very important piece of your child’s education 
  • Rubber Band: because reading stretches the imagination 
  • Mint: to open a ‘mint’ of information 
  • Band Aid: to mend the heart and mind 
  • Sweet Tarts: for the sweet satisfaction of learning something new 
  • Q-Tip: to open the ears to the meaning of words 
  • Gum: to remind you to always stick with reading 

Helping our children create a love of reading is one of the greatest gifts we can ever give to them. However simply telling them to read is not enough, our children need to see us reading as well. There is a saying that I have always loved: “Our children may not listen to us, but they never fail to imitate us.” And in this case it is so true; we must be readers ourselves, for our children tend to follow the example of their parents. A child who sees reading as a pleasant and relaxed activity is likely to enjoy it and make it a lifelong habit. My husband and I read aloud to our 6 year old twins – it encourages listening, helps develop language skills and vocabulary, and teaches children to associate reading with enjoyment. 

Here are some ideas for creating a love of reading and learning and creativity in your children: 

  1. Set aside a special time for reading each day. Make it fun. If reading becomes yet another “have-to” in your child’s life, he or she will quickly become uninterested 
  2. Read aloud to your children, even when they begin to develop the ability to read independently. Children who are read to – read. 
  3. Have your children read to you or other children in the family. 
  4. Find books on topics your child will enjoy: pets, sports, and princesses. 
  5. Bring many books and magazines along on car trips and vacations. 
  6. Create a home library so it’s easy for your child to act on his or her desire to read. 
  7. Help your children get their own library cards from the public library and take them to the library often. We take our little ones to the library for story time. 
  8. Visit local bookstores and watch for children’s author visits to these stores. 
  9. Talk to your child about school and everyday events. 
  10. Tell your child education is important and encourage him or her to do well in school. 
  11. Encourage your child to write. 
  12. Be a reader yourself; children often follow the example of their parents.

The key to instilling a love of reading in your child is to help him or her feel successful at it. Children who enjoy reading will naturally do it more often, so magazines, comic books or books your child has read before are still okay – as long as your child has fun while reading. 

Reading helps your child build his or her vocabulary and comprehension, gain new perspectives and succeed in school. As a parent, you can help your child develop and enjoy this vital skill by making it a regular part of his or her day, and more importantly, by making it fun!

Main Image: Jeff reading to three of our little ones before bed.

Categories: Parenting
About The Author
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Joan Lunden truly exemplifies today’s modern working woman. An award-winning journalist, bestselling author, motivational speaker, successful entrepreneur, one of America’s most recognized and trusted television personalities, this mom of seven continues to do it all. As host of Good Morning America for nearly two decades, Lunden brought insight to top issues for millions of Americans each day. The longest running host ever on early morning television, Lunden reported from 26 countries, covered 4 presidents and 5 Olympics and kept Americans up to date on how to care for their homes, their families and themselves.

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