I Love to Watch You Read

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I love to watch you read - an encouraging post from Anne at LibraryAdventure.com

Encouragement That Works

A few months ago I read a great article about encouraging young athletes. Bruce E. Brown and Rob Miller of Proactive Coaching, LLC have spent the last 30 years coaching kids, coaching coaches, and coaching parents. In an informal survey of hundreds of college and professional athletes Brown and Miller discovered a common thread: overwhelmingly these athletes said the number one thing that motivated them was to hear their parents simply say “I love to watch you play.”

I LOVE TO WATCH YOU PLAY.  No criticism, no break down of what could have gone better, no adding “BUT…” just “I love to watch you play.”

It got me thinking, why don’t we encourage kids this way in other areas of their lives?  I am not the only one who had this thought – a few weeks later another great article appeared on the Huffington Post.  Rachel Macy Stafford took “I love to watch you…” to a whole new level with her kids – heck, she even used it on her husband with great success!

I love the idea Stafford proposes – encouraging a wide variety of interests, behaviors, activities.

Reading for Success

Reading is, by far, the most important academic skill our children will master.  It is the key to success in all other academic pursuits. Reading proficiency effects employment opportunities and income. Yet, 14% of the adult population (age 16 and up) are illiterate according to the National Institute of Literacy’s April, 2013 report.

That is 32 million people. Even scarier? 63% of prison inmates cannot read.

Maybe we need to focus on empowering our children to READ. Maybe this simple phrase can be a start, a step in the right direction.

What if?

What if we told our babies “I love to watch you read” when they pawed at a book, flipped pages, got excited to see the Cheerios box come out of the pantry, sat engaged in our laps for a bedtime story or Story Time program?

What if we told our toddlers “I love to watch you read” when they looked at picture books, retold their favorite stories, brought a book to us to enjoy with a cuddle?

What if we told our preschoolers “I love to watch you read” when they pointed to print while exclaiming “that is an ‘L’ my name starts with L” or announced from the back seat of the car that they see McDonald’s?

What if we told our Kindergarteners “I love to watch you read” with every sight word they recognized?

What if we told our grade school kids “I love to watch you read” as they sounded out words to a younger sibling, brought home a book from the library, retold a joke or poem or scientific fact they had read?

Could we build a generation of readers? Could we slash illiteracy rates? Could we empower our kids to learn, to discover, to explore? Could we get more kids to truly love reading?

I think we could!

But we couldn’t stop there. We’d have to tell our middle school students “I love to watch you read” when they selected a book over a video game, our high school students when they stashed a book in their backpacks in case they finished the bio exam early or refused to see a new movie the day it was released because they hadn’t finished the book yet.

If we encouraged our kids to read, without judgement, without suggestions, without criticism would they become life long readers?

Change the Future Today

With a nation-wide high school drop out rate of over 25% I think it is definitely worth a try!

Think of the possibilities this simple phrase could have with a struggling reader.  It could be the perfect way to offer encouragement at every level.  These words could take the pressure off, remove the judgement and expectations a struggling reader experiences.  These words say I accept you for who you are right this very minute, I accept that this is difficult for you, I accept that you have to work hard at this, I enjoy watching you try.

And so, I challenge you to a New Year’s resolution. Use this one simple phrase every day with every child. Together let’s build the next generation of readers.

All it takes is 6 little words: I LOVE TO WATCH YOU READ.

About Anne McKernan

Once upon a time Anne McKernan, a very tired mother of two, walked in to a library ... the next thing she knew she was leading her town library's story time programs. Read more at http://itsybitsymom.wordpress.com


  1. So very true Anne and a wonderful idea; I hope lots of parents and teachers catch hold of it. I love to see my kids reading – puts a wee smile on my face 🙂

  2. Thanks Vanessa! I love to see my kids reading too – and now I am making a point of telling them. I especially love seeing them read to each other!

  3. LOVE this, Anne! As soon as I read your first paragraph, I was going to say, did you read the post from Hands Free Mama (Rachel), and then you mentioned it! I so agree with this mentality.

    I want my kids to always want to bring me a book to cuddle/read/discuss. And I want them to know how much I admire them for their reading efforts!

    • Thanks Caroline! I have people ask me all the time how I get my 16 y.o. son to read – he is a huge reader and most boys his age are not. It gets so much harder to encourage reading as they get older!! I just love the don’t judge, just encourage, power of this phrase!

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