Instilling a love of reading in a child is quite possibly the most pleasurable part of parenting, but there’s a caveat: You have to find the right books.
For my son, that early literacy was fostered via a singular author: Oliver Jeffers. The Irish-born, Brooklyn-based writer and illustrator has a talent for juxtaposing bold and beautiful painted pictures with observational, humor-filled storytelling. From the moment my son was born, our bookshelves were punctuated with so many of his classics like Stuck, Here We Are, What We’ll Build and How to Catch a Star, not to mention the famous series he illustrated, The Day the Crayons Quit.
This month, I got to sit down with Jeffers to hear about his new book for adults and kids called Begin Again, which offers a brief and colorful history of humanity.
And while I had him, I had to ask: As a writer and dad of two, what are his at-home tactics for fostering a love of reading in children?
“It’s simpler than you might think,” Jeffers says. “I really lead through example. My kids see me reading all the time and that resonates. I also choose stories for them as wisely as I can, so I know the books we read are ones that they’re going to enjoy.”
Jeffers also suggests doing what you can to take the pressure off. “Consistency helps, but that doesn’t mean creating a disciplined routine,” he explains. That removes the joy and fun. “It’s more about creating shared moments where you bond while reading together that instills that early love.”
As for books and bedtime routines, Jeffers says that this is also one of the best moments to read together, but he’s mindful of setting boundaries on “one more book” requests from his kids. “You can tell the difference, depending on the ask,” he says. “Sometimes they just want to stay up later, but if it’s a moment where they really are enjoying story and they don’t want to end at a particular chapter, then it’s like, ‘Alright, we’ll go a bit longer.’ You have to feel it out.”