Wednesday, January 26, 2011

How I Made My Kids Readers

by Hilde Garcia

I bribed them… in utero. Well, maybe it wasn’t so much a bribe as exposure. I mean they were kind of captive, right? Supposedly kids can hear you at about five months during gestation, so I began reading to them the moment I found out I was pregnant. I know, I’m a little nuts. But to me, reading was an escape, an adventure, a thrill, something I cherished. I couldn’t take a chance that my kids would turn out to be … gasp…. Non-readers- ahhhh! Yep, no way, so I figured, “What do I have to lose?”

By the time I gave birth, I had read all the Anne of Green Gables Series- Books 1-8, all of Harry Potter books (only up to Book 4 at that time), the entire Chronicles of Narnia series, as well as Oh, The Places You’ll Go, Goodnight Moon, and several other classics including Mark Twain.

I was taking no chances and read them out loud right to my belly. I know, seriously twisted. But then again, when you’re on bed rest with twins and bored out of your mind, all bets are off on sanity.

Then it was time to go and meet the dynamic duo, whom we fondly referred to as Alien and Predator. I packed the following in my hospital bag: Mem Fox’s Time for Bed; Goodnight Moon and Oh, The Places You’ll Go! Yep. I read them all three nights. I cried every time I read Dr. Seuss (and I still do). The nurses smiled; maybe they thought my bedtime reading routine wouldn’t last. But it did.

My husband and I bathed our twins every night, put their jammies on after their bath, combed the three hairs on their heads and then read to them. We taught our ritual everyone that came into our world. We had songs and dances for our Sandra Boynton favorites like Hippos Go Berserk and Snuggle Puppy. We have loads of photos with family and friends all reading to our kids and loving every minute.

We read to our kids before nap and after preschool, in the sun and sometimes...just because. There is always time for reading. There is always access to books. NO electronics in our car, just a bunch of books and paper should inspiration strike. My daughter has already written two best sellers in the preschool world and I edited them for her.


Now my kids are six and in Kindergarten. Are they readers? You bet your library card. Is it because of mommy’s crazy tactic? I’d like to think so. Or maybe they are genetically wired to read. Who knows? They read and write in two languages. Soon a third- Hebrew.
Victoria & Sam
They love books, libraries, book stores, book mobiles and words. They love to tell stories and draw them and write them down. They know which way to hold up a book, a skill mastered when they were one. They are amazing and avid readers and I marvel at the places they will go.


  1. Tommy (in Henry's store): Mommy, I'm going to marry that girl there.

    Mommy: Well, let's find out her name first and see if that's a plan she can live with.

    Tommy: O.k.

    Family is funny.

  2. You rock Hide . Sam and Victoria are growing up so fast . Great blog .

  3. You rock Hide . Sam and Victoria are growing up so fast . Great blog .

  4. I read to my kids in the womb too. Some of the books you mentioned are my favorites. It's always wonderful to see our kids blosom.

  5. "I'm going to marry that girl there."
    Whenever I say that in a store, security escorts me out.
    Reading for One

  6. I loved your post! I started reading to my son at 6 months and thank God I did. He has Dyslexia so reading was hard and horrible and came really late for him after much tutoring with an Orton Gillingham reading system. I think if I hadn't taught him a love of stories and pictures, he'd have hated books!
    Thanks for sharing!
    Jo Ann

  7. Thanks for stopping by the Tub to point out this post. It is FAB-U-LOUS! I cry with Time for Bed ... I just love that book. So what are Sam and Victoria's favorite books at the moment?

  8. Great post ... we also have the ritual of reading to our little before bedtime and love the fact that your Victoria is penning a book already :-)

  9. It will make them interesting adults. Great job!

  10. Hey folks. Thank you for your great comments on my blog. It's funny, who knew my kids would be such good material. @Terry, I cry when I read Time for Bed too. And because it repeated, "little mouse, little mouse," I would direct each phrase to each twin. I think we read that one for 3 or 3.5 years before it was retired. @IZ, her book was title "Hello Kitty and the Bumblebee." She illustrated it in a mini little memo book from Hello Kitty. I wrote the words down. She was 4.5. It was three pages long. It had a beginning, middle and an end. She makes it so easy. And to everyone else, truly, thank you for your comments. And I actually even figured out how to post. I plan to reply way more often in 2011. Much love.

  11. @Joann. I think you did great starting so young. Jim Trelease says reading a loud to your children is the best you can do for them. He read to his teens while they did the dishes. And he said, "If you haven't figured out how to make that happen, do. They can do the dishes while you sit and drink coffee and read a loud." Your son might have had trouble but I bet he loves to listen still, since he did as a baby and that's what's going to keep him reading. My brother has the same issue and is an avid reader now as a grown up. Good work.

  12. I finally figured out how to post!


  13. Brilliant. Reading is not only a love, it is a habit, and your dedication to creating that habit has paid off!

  14. Hilde,
    I don't think you are at all twisted. Congrats on giving your children such a great start.
    And congrats to the Pen and Ink team for winning last week's Comment Challenge drawing. We have appreciated all your comments on our TeachingAuthors blog these last two weeks. Hope you'll stop by again and enter for a chance to win our book giveaway.

  15. What a wonderful post!! I'm also lucky to have avid readers in my two older boys (7 and 8) and am enjoying watching the love of reading unfold in my 4 year old daughter.

  16. Bravo, Hilde! It's never too early to encourage a love of reading. My parents read to me every night at bedtime and I read to my son every night - and during the daytime too. Adorable pictures!

  17. Awesome! I still read to my son (11) most nights, and will be very sad when he doesn't want to anymore. My kids both enjoy reading, and I love to give books to them and my nieces and nephews too. People who don't read are a mystery to me. I just can't picture a world in which I didn't want to read.....nope, can't imagine that at all.

    Love sharing great stories! Thanks for this post. : )

  18. This brings back such sweet memories! I didn't read to my kids in utero, but we read Boynton and so many other favorites. We went to the library before they could walk, and we read to them every night. We're a family of book addicts including audio books. Makes long trips in the car easy.

  19. @Jennifer, I can't imagine a world without books either. I can't believe how some kids don't read. I met a girl today who was an amazing young woman. She was well read, well versed, a latin scholar, wishing to go to Cornell and only 16. It reaffirmed my faith that we haven't lost our young people to the world of flash media and instant gratification. But then again, I know the parents, and they read to her and her brother, all the time. Her mother is a Children's book author too... so READ TO YOUR KIDS, no matter what you do in life. Thank you all for your amazing comments. It made my week. More post coming to a blog near you- yep, right here.

  20. I'm so jealous! My kid just beats up the book and runs away. Granted, he only 21 months old, so I'm hoping he'll enjoy story time as he gets older.

    Jennifer (An Abundance of Books)


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