How I Encourage My Kids to Become Readers by Brenda Priddy
Today, children are assailed with many claims on their attention. Not only do children have homework, chores, toys, and video games; but they also have the huge attention grab of the online world.
Getting a child who is pulled in so many different active and stimulating directions to sit down and read is a difficult task. However, regardless of how educational games and online media can be, I still believe that it is important for children to sit and read a book that has pages to turn. According to recent studies, children who read from physical books actually retain more information than children who simply read on screen-based media. This makes it more important than ever to encourage children to read books.
As an adult book-lover, I definitely want to encourage my children to read as much as possible. Here is what I have found to be effective methods for encouragement:
Ensure They Read Well
If reading is hard, a child won’t want to do it. Therefore, my first priority as a parent is to ensure they can read well. I build reading skills by having the child read aloud a few times a week. This builds practice, confidence, and skill level all at the same time. I also choose books that are right at or just under the child’s current reading level. It seems to boost their confidence when they can easily read the words on a page.
We have almost daily reading sessions. Sometimes the child reads to me, and sometimes I read to the child. Sometimes we do both. If you’re stumped about what to read, I have tons of book ideas for kids. According to a study from 2013, children who read for fun perform better in math, vocabulary, and spelling. Another study from 2013 found that children who read interactively with their parents are able to raise their IQ score by 6 points.
We definitely take our reading time seriously here!
Children tend to mimic what they see around them. My kids see me reading books quite often. Almost every weekend I’m reading a book for work or just for fun. One of the first words that my two year-old learned was “book.”
Let Kids Pick Their Books
Visiting a library or bookstore and letting a child choose whatever they want is a surprisingly effective way to encourage children to read. My kids love selecting their own books and reading them once we arrive home (or even in the car). My eldest daughter (who is 8) usually picks non-fiction, science-oriented books. My youngest (who is 2), will usually pick a book with bright pictures or something that makes sounds.
You end up with a few more “Barbie Visits the Moon” style books at first, but eventually, children will pick out books with more substance. When I was growing up, I was about age 10-11 when I started picking out more tome-like books to read.
Offer Reading Incentives
Even if children don’t require extra incentive to pick up a book, sometimes getting a reward is still fun. We let our children sign up for the library reading challenges each summer (now they even have quite a few challenges that are online or app based). It is a fun way for them to see if they read three books they get ice cream, or if they read 10 books they get a bigger prize.
If I want my children to read a particular book (usually one that is near the top of their reading ability), I will set up my own reward system. Depending on the length or difficulty, the reward usually ranges from a small dessert or trinket to a larger item.
I want to raise my children to be life-long readers. These tools we use are designed to instill a habit and love of reading in our children so they can become smarter, more-rounded, and better communicators and students.
How do you encourage the children in your life to read?
Brenda is a fierce book lover and defender of children’s literature. She blogs about books and book goodies at Daily Mayo. Keep up with Brenda on Twitter (@dailymayo), or get all the book goodies directly in your inbox with the Daily Mayo newsletter!