Encouraging Reading in Children

Updated on January 2, 2018
PAINTDRIPS profile image

As a children's book illustrator, Denise has many things to say about the process, her struggles, and children's books on the market today.

One of my series on Encouraging Children to the Adventure of Reading.
One of my series on Encouraging Children to the Adventure of Reading. | Source

My Early Years Reading

How do you encourage children to read? Especially these days when movies, TV and electronic games vie for all your children’s attention? Do you have ideas?

When I was very young I was totally unaware of my vision problem. I assumed everyone saw things the way I did. In the 5th grade, the teacher put us all in alphabetical order and I ended up in the back of the classroom. That was the first year I had any idea something might be off. My teacher put the homework assignments up on the blackboard. Since I couldn’t see any assignment message, I didn’t do the work. One day we had quite the argument about it. I told her there was no assignment on the board and she said there was. I insisted there wasn’t and she made me come to the front of the room. It was rather like magic that the handwriting began to appear as I approached the board. If I were the suspicious sort, I could have sworn she was playing a trick on me. Gratefully, she saw the problem and adjusted my seating to the front of the room and it didn’t come up again. You would think someone would have told my mother but apparently not.

Another in my series Encouraging Children in the Adventure of Reading.
Another in my series Encouraging Children in the Adventure of Reading. | Source

My First Books

As the years went by more and more reading assignments and requirements surfaced. I found that to read I had to place the book mere inches from my face, which gave me severe headaches. I began avoiding reading as often as possible. It wasn’t easy but I was able to continue until I turned 13 without reading. By the time the problem was resolved, I was reading at a 4th grade level and very slowly.

It was that year that my father purchased a book for me. You have to understand that for my father to buy me something was such a rare occurrence that I prized the book even though I didn’t want to read it. It was so long. But since he bought it for me, I read it and loved it. It was Call of the Wild by Jack London. I was hooked. I began devouring books after that. Next I read Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass. Yet I still read very slowly and had a terrible time catching up on all the reading required for high school.

Another in my series Encouraging Children in the Adventure of Reading.
Another in my series Encouraging Children in the Adventure of Reading. | Source

My Reading List

I still love reading very much and even now I’m plowing through some of the books on my high school reading list. For instance, I just finished George Orwell’s 1984 a few weeks ago. Okay. I know I’m behind but people were talking about it and I thought it was about time I read the book. Other books on my reading list for this year are Charles Darwin’s Origin of the Species, Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo, Desiderius Erasmus’ The Praise of Folly, Isaac Newton’s Principia: The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, and St. Augustine of Hippo’s The City of God, among many others. I really love this range of intellectualism that I have so long neglected.

As an artist and illustrator for children’s books, it is my great love and honored task to get children to develop a love of reading. The remarkable illustrations in the original of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland that were so encouraging me to read on. That’s when I knew I wanted to illustrate books. The original illustrator was Sir John Tenniel. The books have inspired a good number of other illustrators since then, among them Arthur Rackham and even Salvador Dali. And why not? The story is so whimsical and unusual that it still inspired illustrators, myself included.

Another in my series Encouraging Children in the Adventure of Reading.
Another in my series Encouraging Children in the Adventure of Reading. | Source

Do you create your own reading list of books you want to finish at the beginning of each year?

See results

What I Did To Promote Reading

When my children were younger I read to them. We had a special reading time each day and as soon as we finished one book, I would begin another one. Even when the four of them were reading for themselves, I still continued the practice, choosing larger and longer books to interest them. I mostly read books to them that were a year or several above their reading/grade level to pique their interest in chapter books and later young adult books. When my son was in high school, he thought perhaps he was too old to be read to and so he opted out of our reading time. However, he kept his door open so he could still hear the book and before the chapter was over he had crept out and joined us in the back of the room. I found that there is something magical about the human voice and it draws you in. That was my method to get my children to fall in love with books.

This past year I began a series of fine art photography motifs. One series was children as fairies and pixies. Another series was of children riding or befriending dinosaurs like in Dinotopia by James Gurney. But my favorite of the series in photography has been the one to encourage reading. I figure if I’m going to create a fantasy with photography, why not one that encouraged children to read. I’m very proud of the ones I’ve done so far and intend to do many more this year. In all I’ve created over 60 images in the three series mentioned so far.

Another of my series.  Unearth a good book today.
Another of my series. Unearth a good book today. | Source

My Favorite Image

The process is really easy. I take photographs of children, many of my own grandchildren, and cut them out in Photoshop. Then I create a background and add a book I took a photo of in my kitchen. I like to use a number of filters to make the photos look old and worn or to add atmosphere.

I think my favorite is of the boy fishing from the top of a book and he has hooked a flying galleon. This is one of the easiest to create but the most fun, by far. I added moss for the boy to sit on and waves crashing upon the book below.

That is exactly how I feel about books. The have the power to take you away to a place in your mind; a place filled with fantasy and imagination. A book can make you laugh, make you love, make you hate and make you cry. For a short time, you can be someone else, sail a ship to far lands, discover buried treasure, rule a kingdom, become a wizard, solve a mystery, or even fly a spaceship to distant worlds. Your book is your ticket to anywhere. What could be better? I can’t think of a better profession than the one where you encourage children to discover this great treasure.

Another in my series.  The adventure continues.
Another in my series. The adventure continues. | Source

How Would You Encourage Reading

After all these years, I never really learned how to skim read. I still read each and every work the author has written, which also makes me a fine proofreader. I hardly ever skip a word, even small words like “the” or “and.” Sure it takes me a long time to read a book even today, but I enjoy each word. Savor the spice and thought put into each and every one. Even if you only read a chapter or two of a book each evening, you can still finish a lot of books in a year. And you will remember them better for taking time with them as well.

I’d love to hear what you think of my series or if you may have any suggestions for future images. Maybe you have an idea for a future series too. I’m not only open to suggestions, I appreciate them.

How do you encourage children to read? Do you have a child who hates reading? What do you think would work for children who think reading is a waste of time?

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Denise McGill

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

        Denise McGill 

        10 months ago from Fresno CA

        sheilamarie78,

        Me too. I love children's books. I'd rather read one even today than an adult book. There is something so innocent and fresh about literature for children. Thanks for commenting.

        Blessings,

        Denise

      • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

        Denise McGill 

        10 months ago from Fresno CA

        Larry Rankin,

        What a great dilemma! Actually I'm sure I would rather have that dilemma than the reverse where a child wouldn't touch a book for love or money. Still, at 3 the child will outgrow the roughness and treat books like the valued treasure they are. For my rough kids I used to get second hand thrift store children's books until they were of an age where books were treated more kindly. We visited the library often and would sit and read books there... not taking them home kept them nice. I do have to confess that after a certain age the library will issue the child his/her own card. My roughest daughter would check out dozens of books if I let her and she wasn't too gentle with them. Twice I had to pay to replace a damaged book.

        This only meant that she had to work off the debt to pay for it herself and she did graciously. Still she damaged another one and the same thing happened. I guess it takes a while for some kids to learn gentleness with books. Thanks for commenting.

        Blessings,

        Denise

      • sheilamarie78 profile image

        Sheilamarie 

        10 months ago from British Columbia

        I absolutely love your series of illustrations! I have written several children's books and have (struggled) with illustrating them. Looking at your images inspires me to think bigger. Thank you for sharing your illustrations. Children's literature is so important. I hate to think of children growing up without the magic of stories and books.

      • Larry Rankin profile image

        Larry Rankin 

        10 months ago from Oklahoma

        I have a bit of a different quandary. Our 3 year old loves books. She has tons of them. She comes from a reading family on both her Mom and Dad's side.

        Basically, the problem is she loves books too much:-) All these beautiful illustrated books that she paws through for hours on end, and they absolutely get destroyed.

        It makes me sad, but I end up having to hide them from her. Oddly enough, seems like it makes her love them even more.

        Just wish she didn't have to be so rough on them, lol.

      • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

        Denise McGill 

        10 months ago from Fresno CA

        Thank you Larry,

        I believe reading is healthy and vital for children but I am distressed when I see a trend away from reading because video is so much easier. I get worried for children today, especially my grandchildren. Thanks for commenting.

        Blessings,

        Denise

      • Larry Fish profile image

        Larry W Fish 

        10 months ago from Raleigh

        The first little book I ever remember reading was, Snowbound in Hidden Valley. I later loved reading the works of, Mark Twain. Reading has always stuck with me and my son and daughter have both always loved to read. Reading is important in a child's life. Great article, Denise.

      • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

        Denise McGill 

        10 months ago from Fresno CA

        Mary Wickison,

        I'm glad to hear I'm not alone in the slow reading club. I would be very interested in creating book covers. Please do send me the information. Thanks for commenting.

        Blessings,

        Denise

      • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

        Denise McGill 

        10 months ago from Fresno CA

        Linda Crampton,

        Thank you very much. I'm glad you like the images. Thanks for commenting.

        Blessings,

        Denise

      • Blond Logic profile image

        Mary Wickison 

        10 months ago from Brazil

        I didn't like to read when I was at school. Now I do. Although mine wasn't due to a vision problem.

        I too read slowly but I think I get more out of a book than speed readers.

        Your images are wonderful. If you want to design book covers, for a site I use, let me know and I will send you details.

      • AliciaC profile image

        Linda Crampton 

        10 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

        I love your images, Denise. I also love the way in which you encouraged your children to enjoy books.

      • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

        Denise McGill 

        10 months ago from Fresno CA

        Dora Weithers,

        How sweet of you to say so. I'm very humbled that so many have liked my illustrations so far. They were super-fun to create too. Thanks for commenting.

        Blessings,

        Denise

      • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

        Denise McGill 

        10 months ago from Fresno CA

        Thank you Diana,

        I absolutely agree. The amazing adventure of reading is so underrated with children especially. I'm glad you commented.

        Blessings,

        Denise

      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 

        10 months ago from The Caribbean

        The topic of reading is very important when many households only watch the screen for action. Thanks for sharing your insights and suggestions. The illustrations are super-good.

      • teaches12345 profile image

        Dianna Mendez 

        10 months ago

        An excellent article on encouraging children to read. There are so many great books out there for young children to enjoy. One can never go wrong introducing a book to a child at any age.

      • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

        Denise McGill 

        10 months ago from Fresno CA

        Thanks Marina, I'll check this out right away.

        Blessings,

        Denise

      • Marina7 profile image

        Marina 

        10 months ago from Clarksville TN

        :-) Thankyou: I found this great site: http://aplus.com/a/what-reading-does-to-your-brain...

      • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

        Denise McGill 

        10 months ago from Fresno CA

        Marina,

        I think you are right. I have no scientific studies to back this up but only my own feelings on the matter. I feel I absorb more information reading than I do watching a video. Thanks for commenting.

        Blessings,

        Denise

      • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

        Denise McGill 

        10 months ago from Fresno CA

        Thanks Bill. Thought you may like this one. I know I got a bit wordy with the explanation but I wanted so much to show the art and get feedback. Even as slow as I read today, I complete about 40 books a year. That's quite a deal for someone who used to hate reading and get headaches from reading.

        Blessings,

        Denise

      • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

        Denise McGill 

        10 months ago from Fresno CA

        Mary Norton,

        I wish you had been my principal! Thank you for you lovely comment.

        Blessings,

        Denise

      • Marina7 profile image

        Marina 

        10 months ago from Clarksville TN

        This is very important. The brain grows by reading and not by watching videos.

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 

        10 months ago from Olympia, WA

        Well, as a former teacher, you probably can guess what my response to this is going to be. This is one of the most important things parents can do for their children...it is crucial in my opinion, so thank you for writing about it...and Happy New Year!

      • aesta1 profile image

        Mary Norton 

        10 months ago from Ontario, Canada

        I just love the series of illustrations you made. Those would be great to make children get a book. When I was Principal, one of the things we ask our teachers to observe in the lower grades is the possibility of eyesight problem and parents are always grateful for this.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, letterpile.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://letterpile.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)