How I Turned My Cartoon Junkie Into A Bookworm

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Happy Friday! I hope y’all have had a great week! There’s been some crazy site issues going on over here, but hopefully everything is up and running better than ever now. 🙂 I’m really excited to share with you the story of how Ridley changed from being into cartoons and begging to watch PBS shows on Netflix to begging to have books read to him.

How I Turned My Cartoon Junkie Into A Bookworm |[pinit count=”horizontal”]

A year ago, I had a new baby and was in survival mode. I hadn’t found my motherhood mojo yet and I was really struggling to keep my head above water. Meaning…I was trying to stay sane.

As a result of trying not to go to the crazy house, I let Ridley fall into a bad habit of watching too much Netflix. The shows weren’t bad or anything {Blue’s Clues, Thomas The Tank, Kipper and the like}, but it was just wayyyyyyy too much screentime for him.

I started feeling really convicted as a result of my sister’s faithful example of reading to her kids. She has three littles {soon to be four!} and the kids LOVE to read because she reads to them all the time.

But I wasn’t ready to change until one day, Ridley said to me, “I don’t like to read.”

What?! Those words stung. A lot. Not only because I knew I had failed in providing a very important part of my child’s development, but also because I have always loved to read. My dad calls himself and his offspring “bookmongers.”

{Nerd alert – I read World Book Encyclopedias and the dictionary when I was a child and early teenager. I just devoured everything I could find to read.}

So, I couldn’t imagine anyone saying, “I don’t like to read.”


I firmly believe that knowledge is power in every realm of life. Reading {and loving to read} is an integral part of gaining knowledge.

I knew something had to change.

Screen Shot 2013-07-25 at 9.03.43 PM

First of all, I had to change. 

It’s a sacrifice of my time and energy to read to my child. It didn’t start out as “fun” for me because I was thinking about the ten million other things I needed to be doing. But, I can honestly say that I really love reading to my boys now. It brings me a lot of real, satisfying joy. And I do it without guilt.

Then, Ridley’s desires had to change.

To achieve this change, we did some drastic things.

1. We put away the laptop that he watched Netflix on. Out of sight is out of mind. Boom.

2. I downloaded audio books onto my iPad. {This has been a huge source of fun for our whole family.}

3. We set aside reading time every day. Both reading aloud and reading silently. And Ridley always gets a bedtime story read to him by his daddy. 🙂

4. I signed Ridley up for the library reading program. Last Summer he met his goal of 1000 pages. This Summer he’s more than 3/4 of the way to his reading goal of 200 books!

I think the librarians sigh when we come to check out more books because the pile is so huge. Ha!

Since we’ve been reading so much more, listening to audiobooks and more imaginative recordings, I’ve noticed Ridley’s imagination has soared. It truly amazes me and I’m just so thankful that we made the change from cartoon junkie to bookworm.

Ridley’s love of reading will benefit him not only as a child, but it is training him now to crave knowledge that will empower him for life.

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Silly boy! Now he loves to read during meals just like I did as a kid.

Besides checking out books from the library, I love scouring thrift stores, rummage sales and yard sales. Our personal library is growing by leaps and bounds and we’ve hardly spent much at all.

I just want to encourage you to turn off the tv and take the time to read to your children or grandchildren.

It really is an investment in their future.

Tell me! Do your kids love to read? If they don’t right now, be encouraged that you can help them learn to love it! 🙂




  1. Myra,
    So glad to hear you helped Ridley make the change from cartoons to books – thanks for sharing. The pictures of him reading were adorable! My boys are both teenagers now, and they both have a love for reading, I’m pleased to say! The library is a great resource, and we always enjoyed the summer reading programs so much. Now they love going to the library book sale and collecting books for their own library.
    Keep up the good work…….

  2. I read to my girls but here lately other things have come into play and we have moved away from our reading time. We still go to the library and do the program they have there, but its just that I am not taking the time to sit down and read to them. They are 7 and almost 9 and I know they need the time of me to sit and read with them.

  3. Way to go, Mom!! What a darling photo of him eating his lunch and reading his books.

    I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who read the World Book! Ours were beautiful–bone-colored “leather” with green trim and gold embossed lettering. Those books were my faithful companions. To this day, I love to run references!
    Richella @ Imparting Grace´s last blog post ..Grace at Home No. 67

  4. My 4 year old son and I recently discovered that Richard Scarry had an animated educational TV show in the 90’s. We purchased several sets for a recent long car trip and my son loved them. Covers historical events (creation of numbers, invention of fireworks, Wright brothers and airplanes) and also basic deductive reasoning with simple mysteries (like who sent an invitation to a party).

    My 4 year old and I read books about an hour a day (spread throughout the day and sometimes all at once) Below is a list of books we liked.

    Alphabet Books We Liked from the Library

    A-Z Books
    What Pete ate from A-Z : Kalman, Maira.
    The bird alphabet book / Pallotta, Jerry.
    If Rocks Could Sing: A Discovered Alphabet Leslie Mcguirk (letter G is a Ghost)

    The apple pie tree by zoe hall
    Apple tree Christmas. Noble, Trinka Hakes.
    Bugs! Bugs! Bugs! Barner, Bob.
    Beaver pond, moose pond.Arnosky, Jim.
    Grandfather Buffalo.Arnosky, Jim.
    The three bears / by paul galdone
    Balancing act. Walsh, Ellen Stoll.
    Ask Mr. Bear. Flack, Marjorie,
    The bear that heard crying / Kinsey-Warnock, Natalie.
    Beady bear by don freeman
    A cow’s alpha-bet by woody jackson
    Cock-a-doodle-doo, creak, pop-pop, moo / Aylesworth, Jim.
    Cookies Bite Size Life Lessons by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
    Have you seen Mary? By Jeff Kurrus and Michael Forsberg
    Caps for sale : Slobodkina, Esphyr.
    The very quiet cricket. Carle, Eric.
    A house for Hermit Crab. Carle, Eric.
    Have you got my purr? By judy west
    Where in the wild? Camouflaged creatures concealed and revealed by Dwight kuhn
    This and That by Julie Sykes
    Lemons are not yellow by Laura Vaccaro Seeger (about colors)
    I’ll teach my dog 100 words / Frith, Michael K.
    Go, dog, go! Eastman, P. D.,
    Big dog … little dog : Eastman, P. D.,
    Goodnight, my duckling. Tafuri, Nancy.
    Harry, the dirty dog : Zion, Gene,
    The ugly duckling / Andersen, Hans Christian,
    McDuff comes home / Wells, Rosemary.
    The hole in the dike / Green, Norma B.
    Little Bull : James, Ellen Foley.
    Bashi, elephant baby / Radcliffe, Theresa.
    Little elephant / Ford, Miela.
    Will you be my friend? : Tafuri, Nancy.
    Lots of Feelings by Shelley Rotner
    Feathers for lunch. Ehlert, Lois.
    Fish is fish by leo leonni
    Good night, Gorilla. Rathmann, Peggy.
    The very helpful hedgehog. Wellesley, Rosie
    Henny Penny / by paul galdone
    The little red hen / by paul galdone
    Inch by inch. Lionni, Leo,
    Jennifer and Josephine by Bill Peet
    Knit your bit by Deborah hopkinson
    Three little kittens / by paul galdone
    Pouch by david ezra stein
    What’s Looking at you, kid? By j. Patrick lewis
    Lola at the library by Anna MCQuinn
    Little lions.Arnosky, Jim.
    Never too little to love / Willis, Jeanne.
    Lost in the woods : Sams, Carl R.
    Lentil. McCloskey, Robert,
    Slow down for manatees.Arnosky, Jim.
    Where’s our Mama? By Diane Goode
    The little mouse, the red ripe strawberry and the big hungry bear by don and Audrey wood
    Mop Top by Don Freeman
    Mother and Baby Zoo Animals by Caroline Arnold
    Richard scarry’s please and thank you book (manners)
    Manners at the table by carrie finn
    Otter moon. Humphries, Tudor.
    Little by little / Stewart, Amber.
    A baby sea otter story / Rustad, Martha E. H.,
    Little Otter’s big journey / Bedford, David,
    Gentle giant octopus / Wallace, Karen.
    Octopus soup / Mayer, Mercer,
    Owl Babies by Martin Waddell
    An octopus is amazing by patricia lauber
    White Owl, Barn Owl by Nicola Davies
    Sleepy Little Owl by Howard Goldsmith
    Little Owl Lost by Chris Haughton
    The Littlest Owl by Caroline Pitcher
    Cock-a-doodle-hooooooo! By Mick Manning
    The Frightened Little Owl by Mark Ezra
    Owl Moon by Jane Yolen

    Pretzel / Rey, Margret,
    Pandas. Schreiber, Anne.
    Panda kindergarten / Ryder, Joanne.
    Three little pigs by paul galdone
    Huff and Puff
    Pig will and pig wont by richard scarry
    A porcupine named Fluffy / Lester, Helen.
    Polar bear, polar bear, what do you hear? / Martin, Bill,
    Manuelo, the playing mantis by Don Freeman
    Grandpa’s quilt / Franco, Betsy.
    My “q” sound box / Moncure, Jane Belk.
    Raccoon on his own by jim arnosky
    The tale of peter rabbit by Beatrix potter
    The rattletrap car by Phyllis root
    Not a box by antonette portis
    Roar! : Edwards, Pamela Duncan.
    Brave little raccoon. Wolf, Erica.
    Raccoon moon. Willis, Nancy Carol,
    The kissing hand / Penn, Audrey,
    My friend rabbit by eric rohmann

    Hide and snake. Baker, Keith,
    The seals on the bus / Hort, Lenny.
    Little shark / Rockwell, Anne.
    All about sharks. Arnosky, Jim.
    Super senses / Levine, Shar,
    The storm seal by judy waite
    Slinky scaly snakes DK beginning reader
    Selas by Charles rotter
    Shoes by Elizabeth Winthrop
    Farmer brown shears his sheep a yarn about wool by teri sloat
    Slowly, slowly, slowly, said the sloth by eric carle
    Smokey by bill peet

    All about turtle by jim arnosky
    Turtle in the sea by jim arnosky
    Turtle, turtle, watch out! By april pulley sayre
    One tiny turtle by Nicola davies
    Turtle splash by cathryn falwell
    Little turtle and the song of the sea by Sheridan cain

    I’m taking a trip on my train by Shirley neitzel
    Trains by gail gibbons
    Down by the station by will Hillenbrand
    I drive a freight train by sarah bridges
    The last train by Gordon titcomb
    Bear on the train / Lawson, Julie,
    The giving tree. Silverstein, Shel,
    Tiger trail by kay winters
    Tigers and their cubs by Margaret hall

    Underground by Denise Fleming
    One rainy day by m. Christina butler
    Animals under the ground by allan fowler
    Great day for up by dr seuss
    The umbrella by jan brett
    My u sound by by jane belk moncure
    Up! By Kristine o`Connell George
    Yellow umbrella / Liu, Jae Soo. With audio cd of music
    Under the ground by jo windsor

    Yucky worms by Vivian French
    The boy who cried wolf / Hennessy, B. G.
    Where’s Walrus?. Savage, Stephen,
    Baby whale’s journey/ London, Jonathan,
    Red wolf country / London, Jonathan,
    Worms for lunch? By leonid gore
    Big Wolf & Little Wolf / Brun-Cosme, Nadine.
    Who eats what? Food chains and food webs by patricia lauber
    Walruses / Miller, Connie Colwell,
    Follow the water from brook to ocean by Dorros, Arthur .

    My xyz sound box by jane belk moncure
    Does a yak get a haircut? By fred ehrlich, md.
    Zelia zack and zodiac by bill peet
    Lots and lots of zebra stripes, patterns in nature by stephen r Swinburne
    Zoe and her zebra by clare beaton
    Put me in the zoo by Robert lopshire

  5. this is so encouraging & funny all at the same time! my one sister enjoyed reading encyclopedias & the dictionary as well; she knows so much more than i do, too. & to think that ridley reads while eating; i loved when we didn’t eat as a family, ’cause then i was allowed to read! =) thanks for the steps to encourage reading; we don’t have children yet, but i’m pinning for future brainstorming!

  6. I love this! I had baby # 5 about 4 months ago, and I definitely am guilty of allowing too much netflix. For awhile it was probably justified since I was sleep deprived and nursing around the clock. But now it’s become a bad habit, especially since we’ll be starting our home school year in about a month. Thanks for the encouragement, this was a great reminder!
    Jessica´s last blog post ..Birthday Giveaway!

  7. I am addicted to reading. My goal since before I had kids was to raise readers. My boys are 5 and 6 right now and are both excellent readers 🙂 Hard work definitly payed off. I love sharing my passion for reading!

  8. As an adult I’ve really had a passion to read. I didn’t enjoy it at all as a kid and it has been a parenting goal of ours to read as many times in the day as possible. My son is 2 1/2 and I hope that all our efforts to read will make him a book worm too! 🙂
    Its really encouraging Myra to see how you’ve spent the last year reading with Ridley and its made such a change!
    We are expecting our second little guy any day and I look forward to reading to both boys. 🙂
    Tabitha´s last blog post ..Our Very Basic Menu for the week of July 22, 2013

    1. I teach first grade and my students LOVE Mr. Putter and Tabby…and so do I! I’m sure my enthusiasm as I introduced the books made the kids more interested in listening the first time around and then they were hooked! The funny thing is that this past year, my former fourth graders would come and ask to borrow Mr Putter books because they remembered them and still loved the stories!

  9. Would u mind sharing the audio books he likes. My son is 4.5 and I’ve wanted to start audio books but not sure which ones.

  10. LOVE this, friend. We’ve just started a no tv during the week rule. It’s HARD, but you know what…day ONE…I had two kids playing lovingly together and coming up with things to do. Totally worth the “hassle.” Love you and can’t wait to squeeze your neck.
    Shaunna´s last blog post ..Giveaway at Jones Design Company

  11. haha I read the encyclopedia, too. 🙂 My kids all love to read, but they all hate to be read to. 🙁 I don’t understand it, but when we try reading together it always devolves into chaos, so I gave up. (Except for Bible time. That’s non-negotiable!) So we inspire our kids more by reading IN FRONT OF them than by reading TO them.
    Rachel R.´s last blog post ..Calvinists Believe People are Puppets…

  12. Thanks for such an awesome post! I totally know what you mean with survival mode! My 18 month old has just started sleeping through the night so I finally feel like things are settling down a bit. My 6 year old has been watching way too much tv/Netflix and would choose computer time over reading right now – even though she can read very well. You have inspired me to make the changes I know need to be made and turn off the devices and pull out the books again. I remember my mom reading to me every night before bed and it was such a special time. Thanks again for the reminder to do what is best for our kids. They grow up too fast 🙂
    Karla Yungwirth´s last blog post ..Sweet Friend Polaroid

  13. Our girls will not go to sleep without bedtime stories. My mother always read before going to bed and often just sitting on the couch reading or at the beach. I picked up that habit in my tweens into yount adulthood, now that I have 3 kids I never read for myself and I would really like to pick it up and set an example for my children. thanks for this post
    Alyca´s last blog post ..Chores: Teaching Kids Responsibility with My Job Chart

  14. Wow! That’s great, Myra! He’s such a cutie and I love that he’s reading books! 🙂

  15. I had no worries about my oldest (now 16) and my youngest (now 10). DS1 was reading at an 8th grade level in the 2nd grade. DD read road signs from a very early age, and sat down the day she got the NatGeo Dinopedia and read the entire thing cover to cover at her Grammy’s kitchen table. My middle child (DS2 – age 14) has been a struggle. Reading just wasn’t something he did by choice for the longest time. Then Grammy got him a Kindle and he reads LOADS now. Maybe it’s the comfort level with electronics, I don’t know. I’m just happy he’s reading on his own!
    LuAnn Braley´s last blog post ..My Bestest Buddy and Her Papaw

  16. Thanks so much for sharing this, Myra. As a first grade teacher, and someone who’s going to grad school for certification as a reading specialist, I am so glad you took the time to share how you encouraged your son to love reading. So many parents don’t realize the importance of reading with their kids from a very young age – it really makes a difference when they start school!

  17. That’s great for kids that can read. My littles are (just turned)3 & (just turned) 5 can’t read on their own. They are read to at least 2-3x a day. We have kindle free time which the $2 a month fee is cheaper than library fees. Our library here in Seattle has tons of ebooks & audio books. Kindle free time has a lot of read to me books too thar highlight the words as it reads and shows the word on the screen when you touch an object. I can’t wait for my kids to learn to read. My 5 yr old is pretty resistant to anything that looks like “let’s sit down & learn” stuff so I’ve been stuck

  18. Thanks so much for the encouragement here. I remembered reading back when you first wrote it and I’d just had my daughter a few months before. Now my 2nd daughter is due on Sunday and between moving last fall then getting pregnant and being overly exhausted, sick a lot, and back issues, I’ve allowed Clara to watch way too much TV because I’ve been in survival mode a lot.

    I really want to turn this around because I love to read and I want Clara’s imagination and creativity to soar. So again, thank you for this. We are going to start library trips and I’m going to put busy bags together so I can reach for one of those when I’m tired and need something simple that Clara can do on her own rather than turning on TV. 🙂

  19. It is very right to instill good habits in children from an early age. For example, instead of watching TV, we gradually switched to learning to play the guitar. There were some difficulties with choosing a guitar for the baby, but this article helped us a lot Many people consider mastering the guitar an impossible task that takes many years. This is partly true, but only if you want to own the instrument on a professional level. And for the baby, this activity just seems very exciting, so it can be taken for a long time

  20. Amazing! You make me think it’s possible. My child is 100% addicted to the phone and television. And I’m desperate to change that. My fault was that I let him get used to it.

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