Many parents believe it is the responsibility of our children’s’ education providers and their teachers to ensure our kids succeed at, and thoroughly enjoy reading, but they are wrong. That duty to motivate kids to read rests solely on our shoulders. We teach our kids to ride a bike, to tie their laces and to kick a ball, however reading for many families is shied away from. This must change, as reading is essential to a child’s development in today’s world and helps spawn the greatest of talents—imagination and creativity.
To first get them reading more the activity should not be introduced as a chore, children do not respond well to being told to do something they see as simply handed down from above with no clear benefit to themselves. Sure you can suggest good kids’ books you remember from your childhood, but first you should try to latch onto their interests. Every kid has something they love—be it pirates, cowboys, wildlife—and with the range of children’s literature available today they will have no trouble finding books they will enjoy and relate to—allowing them to select the books is key. Kids say the main reason they don’t read more is that they can’t find books they like. Therefore it should be introduced as something they will enjoy, and that you can enjoy with them.
Boys are often reluctant to read and often more reluctant to read fiction. This should not be seen as an obstacle and you should fit around their interests. There are endless non-fiction books for kids, which have been ‘jazzed-up’ and made engaging for all age groups.
Making reading a part of your family’s life is very important to motivate your child to read. Because kids have to read at school they can associate it with work and not pleasure and relaxation so you need to lead by example and show them what it’s about. If your kids see you reading instead of watching the TV they will understand that it’s not a chore. And not just you, your whole family should be showing that reading is exciting and enjoyable. Have magazines and books around the house, read the newspaper, take time to enjoy a book during a rainy day and the association will be made that reading is good. You are your kid’s biggest role models and kids follow your examples so if they see you avoiding reading they will think it is something to be avoided!
The most important factor of all is starting early. You may think it’s too late but if you’re yet to start, now is the earliest you can. Introduce reading to your child when they have no chance of reading at all, even very young children can turn the pages of a cardboard book, read to them and make it a shared experience. As they grow, you can start reading with them and eventually, they will read to you! You will be surprised at how much enjoyment you can get from a children’s book—after all they were written by adults.
If you don’t know where to start, your local library is the ideal place. Librarians are always helpful and if they see you want to help your child to read they will respect that and try to help you both. Bookstores—an obvious one— are also great, new books have an allure even for kids and you can enjoy looking for one together so it can be a shared experience and rewarding for the child. And, of course, blogs such as The Children’s Book Review are also a great place to search for the right book. For all you eBook readers out there you can find some great titles on websites like Sainsbury’s eBooks.
Tom Erik Dale is a freelance journalist, writer and lover of all things literary. I have long been an enthusiastic reader of both fiction and non-fiction and a keen believer in the digital reader revolution.
Looking for more tips on how to motivate kids to read more? You might enjoy this article: Family Reading: Reading Together & Reading Aloud
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