Bookstores are for-profit companies. They'll sell you anything you are willing to pay for. Be a curator for your kids.

Reading

When children are old enough and ready to be read to, read to them every day - even after they know how to read.

Reading doesn't take much time, requires no preparation, easy to do and can be done almost anywhere, anytime.

There are many rewards for reading: time spent together, learning how to read, improving vocabulary, appreciation of books. These are really cool, long term rewards that are truly priceless. It's a miracle not everybody reads to kids all the time! Another benefit is that stories and tales enable kids - or rather don't disable their already present ability - to think freely, to be anywhere in an imaginary world. Stories give you freedom to imagine and.

Reading creates a broader vision in general, open-minded thinking and allows the reader to see the world from different perspectives.

What to read?

"Classic" stories are everywhere. There is an entire isle dedicated to bestsellers. There are dozens of titles from Robert Munsch whose stories make me want to scratch my eyeballs out. But they sell well so they will be front and centre. My point is that we need to be curators of books not just shoppers at a bookstore, we need to carefully look for and pick great books. Reading a gazillion reviews from other parents help. Talking to bookstore employees also help. Letting our kids browse the isles of bookstores for an entire morning also helps.

What if there isn't a book handy or we're not in the mood to read? Let's make up stories! I like to alternate between books and homemade stories. Homemade stories are super easy to make up, especially given the fact that kids are perfectly fine with anything less than perfect. We have stories about disappearing chickens, Darth Vader doing dishes, a boy who eats 17 pancakes, pirates whose ships are eaten, magic puddles, evil wizards, a dragon whose toe hurts and so on. Fun!

When to start reading?

Ask any parenting expert and they'll tell you to start reading when your kid is only a few months old. I tried this and failed miserably. Emma would chew the pages of the books, fidget, walk away and pay no attention whatsoever to the pictures in the book, let alone the storyline. Andrew turns 8 pages at once and has attention for two sentences. An article about reading to your toddlers talks about various tactics but they won't always work.

In retrospect, I think that reading to a 6 month old is not going to create the great benefits that reading to older kids do. It will / may / can leave the reader (the parent) frustrated and give up on reading for a long time or even altogether saying "my baby doesn't like books". So my suggestion is to try reading every few weeksto get a feel for how responsive your baby is but don't push it. When he/she is interested you'll know.

Reading on their own

"For children today reading is something they have to do in order to make it in school." - Rick Ackerly

Children must read, the sooner the better and falling behind causes major problems and axiety. Why? Reading has become do-or-die and do-or-die is never fun. We make kids read whether they are ready or not. There are hundreds if not thousands of special reading-aid books and time is set aside every day for reading practice. The current mainstream North-American way to teach reading is unintuitive, forceful, not fun and failure is stigmatized. Why not teach reading the way we teach speaking? Allowing for a ton of failure via constant exposure over a long period of time in a patiently encouraging manner. How about letting our children see us read? How about letting children run around as they learn to read? Kids learn to speak over many months and years as they play and run around - not during scheduled "speaking lessons" during which they must sit still. The same goes for counting. And other academic skills. In some countries (where policy makers "get it") kids don't even start formal reading lessons until the age of seven. They play. Then at seven they pick it up in a flash and carry on with other things.