Do you have trouble getting your kids to read? If so, you aren’t alone.
Yet this is a case where misery does not always enjoy company. A child who does not read is likely to become an adult who won’t read. This can present serious problems later on when college, work and other commitments can suffer as a result. A smart Mom or Dad understands the need to get their kids to read as part of a child’s well-rounded life.
Certainly, there are also those parents who are just thrilled with the Harry Potter phenomenon because titles in this series often became the first book their kids raced to pick up. In fact, even adults often read these books and do not usually have a problem in getting their kids interested if from nothing more than peer pressure.
Yet even Harry Potter has a downside: many children do not read anything but those about the young wizard’s exploits when months or years may go by between new releases. The same holds true for many other popular children’s book series where a kid may get hooked only on one author or one type of story while unable or unwilling to read anything else.
So how can you get your kids to read? Experts say the first place to start is when you limit the amount of TV or computer time you allow your children. Even educational software may not put enough emphasis on the need to read instructions, going instead for verbal or graphical cues.
Your next step lies with you, some experts add. You need to set a good example for your children by reading yourself. Don’t just tell your kids to read while you go off to watch “Survivor” or “American Idol” episodes on the tube.
Research suggests your best results may lie in your interest in many different types of books rather than always the same genre. Your kids may pick up on your love for books and adopt reading as a pastime.
Also, when was the last time you ventured out to the public library with the kids in tow? Today, there are many families where not even one member has a library card to let them borrow books. But experts say this is a mistake because the library can provide you and your kids access to a host of different types of books and other material you might never find anywhere else.
Consider too that your public library is more than just books. Today’s library usually offers free high-speed Internet and computer access. Most present interesting programs that both encourage kids to read but allow children to discuss the characters and stories they enjoy the most; other programs may help develop and enforce a child’s interest in literature. With so many of these programs free, this can be an excellent way to jumpstart a budding reader.
You also send a powerful message to your kids when you take them to the library. You let them know there is this great resource available to them. When you take advantage of some of the free program offerings and classes scheduled at the library, you let your kids see how much they can get out of the local library besides simply a semi-boring trip with Mom or Dad.
Should your kids make the jump from the joy of reading to a desire to write, try to encourage this as much as possible. If you don’t have a PC at home or have just one that is shared among many, suggest the child write longhand. Even if you don’t have much money, you can usually get a composition book or notebook cheaply enough that your child can devote to his or her writing efforts. This is great because writing and reading tend to go hand-in-hand and an interest in writing can actually make it more likely that your child will read as well.
Another thing that can help you in your quest to get your kids to read is to keep tabs on what titles they like. You can then try to plan a day trip or vacation to places that may be depicted in those books or to an event which talks about a specific period in history. Or follow up their fascination with a particular character by renting a video or attending a play or performance that is related back to that character or subject matter.
Also plan to give at least one great book to your child each birthday and gift-giving holiday while you also make a present of one to your husband or wife. This also sends a key message to your kids about the value of books.
There is just one warning in all this that experts suggest you heed. Specifically, you don’t want to turn reading into a chore by forcing your kids to read. Instead, you want to foster their desire in every way possible. If you push a book in their hand and demand they read for an hour every day, you may wind up with kids who treat this a book not just as an assignment but as a punishment.
Be inventive rather than play book cop and you should be able to get your kids to read. While you’re at it, you might want to take them to a bookstore, too, so they can help pick out their own selections.