Reading makes you a better person.

Reading makes you a better, smarter person and it's easy to see why. Reading strengthens your ability to comprehend, increases your vocabulary, teaches empathy and exercises your brain. New studies are even showing it can lengthen your life and possibly prevent or prolong the onset of Alzheimer's. Nurturing your child's love of reading now will help them create good reading habits for life, and chances are they'll always love to read and will share their reading enjoyment with their own children. Maybe you should be reading more too, you know, setting a good example for your children and becoming a better person yourself. You could single-handedly create generations of better people simply by reading more books. Here are five habits of highly effective readers:

1. They read everyday. Reading everyday keeps you engaged with what's happening in the story so you want to keep going and you're less likely to forget what was happening the last time you read. You will always find time to do things that are important to you, so if you really enjoy reading you'll find hidden moments throughout the day to read, even if it's only for ten or fifteen minutes. I read a lot, sometimes three or four middle grade novels a week. How can I possibly have enough time to fit it in while working full time, raising two teenagers and running a household? I read at lunch, I listen to audiobooks in the car during my commute, I read at night before I go to bed, I read while I'm waiting to pick up my kids from their sports practices and games, I read while waiting for the kid's sporting events to start, I read in waiting rooms, I read while my kids are trying on clothes at the store, I read while I'm waiting for my hair color to process, I read in the checkout line, I read on the toilet (come on...duh!), which brings me to habit number two:

2. They always have a book with them. ALWAYS. Kids and adults have idle moments every day. I never leave home without a book in my purse, a pair of earbuds, and an audiobook downloaded to my phone. My time is precious and valuable. I'm not going to waste it standing around twiddling my thumbs when I could spend a few minutes here and there reading. You know you can borrow audiobooks for free from the public library, don't you? Well, you can and you should!

3. They have a favorite genre. People who like to read and read often know what kind of books they like the most. With kids, it usually takes one page turning book to get them hooked on reading. After a few page turning books you'll see a pattern develop. They become drawn to a certain genre. I love historical fiction. That's not all I read...I try to read a bit of everything because great literature comes in all forms and genres... but I know what my favorite is: middle grade historical fiction. If there's buzz surrounding a book that I haven't read yet, and it's historical fiction, I know I will probably really enjoy it and I'll immediately add it to my list of books I want to read. This can happen with authors too...if you fall in love with a book, you might decide to read everything they wrote.

4. They don't finish books they don't enjoy. There are some people who start reading a book and keep reading it even though they're not enjoying it, like there's some unwritten rule that you have to read every page of a book you open. HUH??? Do you do that? Why? Why would you do that? Don't you realize there are so many great books out there and you will never be able to read them all, even if you wanted to? Why would you waste time trudging through a book you don't enjoy when one you will enjoy is waiting for you? There are award winning books full of rave reviews that I simply did not enjoy, and after a few chapters I moved on without guilt. One of my favorite picture book writers, Mo Willems, says it best, "If you find yourself in the wrong story, leave."

5. They know what they will read next. People who read a lot have an ever-growing list of books they want to read. Following blogs like this one, talking to friends about books and using online resources are all great ways to expose yourself to new titles. Goodreads is a great online tool for keeping track of what books you've read and what books you want to read. You can browse through titles similar to books you've read and books other people liked that also read a book you liked. I use Goodreads a lot. It keeps all of my books organized virtually, and I can find books I want to read by reading reviews and searching through lists of books on their search tool, Listopia. You can keep a list on your tablet or go old school and paper pencil it. I know some people who like to keep a journal of book titles, and then check-mark them as the read each book.

Have some tips and tricks to create effective reading habits? I'd love to hear from you! Please comment below.

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