We’re a family of readers. My husband reads. I read. Each of our four children read voraciously. At least weekly, we take trips to the library to check out new books. Currently, I have three or four books on my “next-to-read” shelf, and am juggling two that I’ve begun reading.

We read mysteries and romantic suspense, young adult fiction and fantasy, middle grade chapter books and fan fiction, plus a variety of nonfiction books. With a 14 year old, a 12 year old, a 10 year old and an 8 year old, I’m often asked how I encourage reading, or why all of my kids—the two oldest girls and the two youngest boys—love books so much.

The answer is quiet simple: We value reading, and it shows in our lifestyle. Instead of turning to visual media to entertain, we turn to books. Even at as toddlers, I rarely plopped them in front of the TV for a movie or educational show—rather, I plopped them down with a stack of books when I needed a moment of quiet or to take a shower.

My favorite reading chair.

Reading does more than pass the time. It teaches kids about the world around them. Books entertain, yes, but through books we learn about other cultures, about how to handle difficult or uncomfortable situations, about ourselves. We encounter joy, laughter, fear, anger, sorrow and hope. Stories lift us out of the ordinary and into realms unknown. Words fire our imaginations and provide a link to deeper thoughts and feelings.

The Need to Read” article in The Wall Street Journal encapsulates this nicely: “Books are uniquely suited to helping us change our relationship to the rhythms and habits of daily life in this world of endless connectivity. We can’t interrupt books; we can only interrupt ourselves while reading them. They are the expression of an individual or a group of individuals, not of a hive mind or collective consciousness. They speak to us, thoughtfully, one at a time. They demand our attention. And they demand that we briefly put aside our own beliefs and prejudices and listen to someone else’s. You can rant against a book, scribble in the margin or even chuck it out the window. Still, you won’t change the words on the page.”

This is why we should read and why we should encourage our children to read. Set aside time for family reading. Connect with your teen over a book. Spend a few moments each day immersed in a good book. You won’t regret it—and neither will your kids.

Until next time,

Sarah