You may think that reading to your kids will establish a great pattern of children loving language, stories, and reading — and to some extent it will — but just as important as reading to your kids is reading next to your kids.

Don't Just Read to Your Kids — Read in Front of Them

That's right: modeling is important. Those 20 minutes of reading picture books with your kids will do little to enforce their life-long literacy if you do not make it a habit of reading in front of them. They need to see you doing it. Watching you read a book means that you are role modeling literacy and the natural function it plays in your everyday life. Your children will not look at reading as a chore and something to check off their list of things to do at night, like feed the cat and take a bath, if they see it's just part of living. It's that important. Kids who are read to do not get to see it as an integral part of civilized existence if they do not see reading in their homes.

Take Stock of Your Reading Habits

Fewer and fewer people read actual books that you can hold in your hand. Does that bother you? Are you okay with that? If it does bother you, consider going against the grain. Buy a book. Go to the library. Get a book of your own and read in front of your child. Read a newspaper. Explain its function to your kids. Why are you reading it? What purpose does it serve? They aren't going to think it's necessary if you don't demonstrate that it is. Let them explore and realize all the various ways you read: book, tablet, everything.

Discuss What You Are Reading and Why

Kids are naturally curious. Tell them why you are reading what you are reading. Is it about nutrition? Is it just for fun or fantasy? Is it about your job? Or how you will be voting next election? They need to see the various uses and functions of reading beyond 'have to' for school. Share with them why you like a particular author and why you don't like another author. It's important for kids to know that there are all sorts of reading materials out there, and that they may like one thing and not another and it's okay.

Easy Readers!

At the end of the day, you might not have the energy to read Click, Clack, Moo one more time. They know it anyhow and have memorized it. Isn't it refreshing to know that lying on the couch reading a few pages of a paperback you've been wanting to read is just as important? Make one of those kids grab you something to drink while you're at it. Relax. In our house some evenings, every piece of furniture has someone draped over it with a book and a cat. How refreshing!