I always imagined that my own kids would also love reading and writing, that it would come naturally, and that the simple act of having good books around for them to read would be sufficient. I actually started collecting children's books long before I had children...during my grad school days I signed up for a Dr. Seuss reading club (made up a kid just for fun) so I had a good set of Dr. Seuss, Berenstain Bears, and other easy readers on my shelf already when my oldest daughter was born. Of course I had never particularly imagined having a child with language delays, motor skill delays, or self-regulation issues, all of which have impacted her interest in and aptitude for reading and writing.
I am by no means an expert in early childhood literacy, but I think we've done a few things right in this area. One really key thing is to keep it fun, because if it's not enjoyable then it loses half of the point, in my opinion. Reading and writing require real effort for my daughter, so if she loses the reward of having fun while she's doing it then in the end it is just work - ugh.
Have good reading materials available - I already mentioned our collection of children's books. We keep these and several kid friendly magazines available on low tables and bookshelves at all times. Often this means I'm picking up books, and stacking them again, but if my kids have been looking at books it is worth the extra effort for me.
Read to them - We read a minimum of one story per kid every night before bed. No matter how late it is. No matter what else has happened that day. They pick the story. Now that my oldest is reading a little on her own we ask her to read at least some part of the story - sometimes a page or two, sometimes every other page, sometimes the whole thing depending on her willingness. Remember it's supposed to be fun.
Think outside the book - There are lots of "environmental" texts available to read. We read signs, receipts, mail, shirts, and grocery lists. Likewise we write notes, lists, names, and menus. Just look around - there's a lot to read and write!
Use the computer - My daughter loves Starfall, a phonics-based reading program with games and art activities. Our school also uses Lexia. She also likes getting on the word processing software and writing cards and notes there. Anything that gets her practicing sounding out words and building sentences is open game in my book.
Be a good example - This is one area that I have no problem modeling for my daughter. I still love a good book, when I have time to read them. It's important to show that reading is not just work, that it can be a fun activity, too.
What ideas do you have for making reading and writing fun?