I’ve loved reading since I was a little girl and I still love books today. They are my friends, my teachers and the proof that magic is real. I bet you love reading as well. Or at least you don’t hate it. You must have been quite surprised to observe that your kids, or the kids you’re teaching, don’t share your passion.
Why some kids hate reading
I want to get kids reading, you want it too, but they resist. First of all, they are surrounded by a world full of moving pictures and visual stories. They don’t have to make an effort to travel to your childhood dream worlds. Reading is much harder than watching a movie.
They are under a lot of pressure to read. Their teachers want them to read, you want them to read, all adults seem to ask it of them. All this pressure overshadows and eventually kills the joy of this wonderful activity.
Here are some tips (that actually work) to get you creative about what you can do:
1. Read for fun
I know you’re busy. We all are. But if you are too busy to relax and enjoy a book, why would your kid act differently? They MUST see you reading and enjoying it. This way, they will understand it’s fun and they’ll copy you. Children have a keen sense for the truth behind things. They will know if you fake it and they will lose their interest. I know you’d like it otherwise, but kids do what they see you doing, not what you tell them to do.
2. Theme their reading nook
Build a nice, cozy reading nook, fill it with books and call it The Reading Cove. Make it a place where your kid would love to spend time and play. Theme it as a dollhouse, pirate cave, Indian teepee, or fantasy land.
3. Stash books
When you grow up surrounded by books, you like books.
Do you remember the library in Beauty and the Beast or the one at Hogwarts? There is not one kid who doesn’t like these magical places. Keep books around your house, build a magical library at home, or at least a bookcase destined just for books.
4. Reread the same books to your kid
Did you know that books advance early language development?
When you reread the same books to your kid, she develops these 3 pre-reading skills:
- Noticing pictures
- Turning pages
- Realizing that the story is the same every time
Books with rhymes are especially important because rhyming helps children learn new words. The kids learn what comes next and chime in, explains Dr. Carlsson-Paige.
Don’t be afraid to act it up when reading to a child. The extra dose of drama makes the story more interesting and helps the kid remember how words sound.
5. Limit screen time
You know those evenings when you are too tired to read a book, so you choose to watch TV or play a video game instead? This happens because reading takes more patience and energy than watching a screen. Your kid is no different. You want her to read more? Limit her screen time.
6. Act mysteriously
Turn your bookcase into a place of secrets and act reluctant to tell your kids what it’s all about. Let them discover old photos hidden in the books, old and new money, your childhood letters, whatever seems interesting to them and you can hide inside a book.
7. Buy pretty books
If the book looks appealing, the kid will feel more inclined to touch it, hold it, look inside, watch the pictures and read it.
8. Books are great presents
Treat books like valuable objects. Your kids will notice that and they will learn to treasure them. Give books for presents and make them rewards for accomplished deeds.
9. Bring authors alive
Encourage your child to write a fan letter to an author they like. This way your kid will understand that actual people write books, some of them might even be fun, with a sense of humor and passion for kids. They might even start a long lasting friendship.
10. Bring a book
How do you and your kid spend your time while riding a bus or subway together? What do you do while waiting for the doctor? If you have a book up your sleeve you can read with your kid rather than letting her play on an iPad while you check Facebook or Tweet. It won’t always be what the kid wants, but eventually, she’ll grow fond of your new bonding habit.
11. Browse the influencer network
Did you know there are hundreds of great blogs written by cool book-reading teen influencers? Start following them, read their author interviews, book reviews and encourage your teen to get involved. She might want to write reviews for Goodreads, or she might even want to start her own reading blog.
12. Don’t limit reading to books
Make reading an essential part of your children’s lives. Encourage them to read the roadside signs, movie names, board game guides and everything that can be read.
13. Teach them to use e-readers
Technology is changing the way we learn. Try to see the benefits, it can have a positive impact on kids and their reading habits. Kids love technology and an e-reader is quite interactive. Moreover, they can be adapted to each person’s specific needs. Do you need bigger letters? There you have them. Do you want to tap a screen to turn pages? It’s right there. Remember that technology and books are not natural enemies!
14. Praise them for reading
Probably the most important tip. Remember to show interest in your child’s reading. Your response is valuable to them (even if teens pretend not to care, they do). So your praise has a strong effect on how hard they will try to become good readers.
Please let us know how you convince your kids to read. Do you have some tips of your own, that actually work? Comment below.