Reading is one of those things that is so important for learning and development. It’s no secret that kids who read more tend to do better academically. Most parents start out in the right direction by starting a book collection for their baby and reading to them, but then as time goes on, more and more kids won’t read a book unless its mandatory for a school assignment.
In this day and age with technology making the rapid advancements that it is, more and more kids are stuck on their tablets, phones, or video game consoles to pass the time instead of cracking open a book. I’m not going to sit here and say technology is the devil and discourage it, in fact I think it can be a wonderful tool when used in moderation. The problem arises when kids are spending hours tuned into their electronics instead of doing something more enriching, such as reading.
Kids tend to view reading as a chore instead of a fun activity. So how can you, as a parent, ensure that they want to pick up a book? Here’s a few tips:
Read to your child
Don’t wait until they’re older to begin this habit. Start reading to your kids NOW. The younger, the better. It doesn’t really matter if they can’t quite understand it all yet. Pick a time when you’re getting relaxed, maybe before naptime or bedtime, and get cozy with a blanket and a good book. Your child will learn to associate reading with love and cuddles, and they’ll look forward to story time.
Pick more than one time of day when you have story time. Instead of watching TV in the morning or after dinner, try reading them a book instead. They’ll get into the habit of grabbing a book instead of reaching for the tablet or remote.
Visit the library often
In our house, we like to visit at least once a week, sometimes more if the library is hosting an event for children or some sort of reading program. Most libraries do summer reading programs, which are a GREAT tool for encouraging reading in your children. Our library offers prizes for so many books read, and entries into a drawing to try and win a grand prize once the summer is over and the reading program has ended. While visiting the library, find a variety of books to read with your children and see what they prefer. You might find that your child will prefer a specific author of genre, and you’ll be able to encourage reading easily in the future by offering them books that fall under these categories.
Don’t rush learning to read
This is important. If you push your child to read when they’re struggling, it can create frustration which your child will then associate with books. Some kids learn to read very early, others take a little longer. Your child’s school will help with the learning process, and you can help too by continuing to read and helping them sound out letters and words in a gentle way. Give lots of praise when they want to try it on their own and do it correctly, but don’t act disappointed or scold them if they aren’t doing it correctly or willing to try. If you have any concerns about your child and their ability to read, discuss them with your local school district. They’ll be able to tell you if it’s normal or if there could be an underlying disability or delay that’s preventing them from learning to read at the appropriate age.
Make daily reading a priority
No matter how old your children get, make daily reading time a part of your schedule. Everyone in your household can participate! Maybe for an hour after dinner, everyone sits in the living room with their favorite books and reads. Or, reading time could happen right before bed. As parents, you should read as well when they are. Children look to you for an example, and if they see you reading, they’ll want to follow suit.
Read to your children, no matter their age
It doesn’t matter if your kids are 12 or 13 years old; read to them anyway. Sometimes it’s nice to just sit back and relax and let someone else read you a story. As they age, look for books that are part of a series. This will keep them interested and looking forward to being able to find out what happens next. I remember as a kid our reading teacher all the way through 7th grade would read us books for the last 20 minutes of class. We used to get so disappointed when the bell rang and we had to stop listening and wait to find out what happens next. It really was addicting!
Help them read on their own as you’re reading to them
While you’re reading a book to them, let them try pages or paragraphs on their own. If they struggle, gently coax them, but don’t force them if they don’t want to read it themselves. Like I explained earlier; if you force them to try to read on their own and they don’t want to, you’ll associate frustration with reading, which is the one thing you want to avoid.
Obviously technology is a necessity, especially here in the 21st century. In fact, it can be a great tool to use. The kids and I have been obsessed with an app called Epic! It’s basically the Netflix of children’s books. We can sit down and read stories on the iPad when we’ve read all our current library books and haven’t had a chance to go back yet. BUT be careful that your kids don’t fall down that slippery hole of screen time! Too much technology can quickly become a security blanket. They’ll start reaching for their games or social media when they sit down instead of reaching for a book, and then it’s very hard to break that habit and start picking up books again. So instead of reaching for the remote at home, reach for a book, and encourage your children to do the same.
Reading is such a valuable skill, and a fantastic way to help your child expand their mind. Give these tips a try at home, and let me know how they work for you!
About Katie Crawford
Katie Crawford is a housewife, mother of three, and blogger who enjoys writing about parenting, recipes, lifestyle, and DIY. She recently started her blog, Glorious Miss Adventures, with the hopes of sharing her ideas and stories with other parents. You can visit her blog at https://gloriousmissadventures.com to see her latest posts.