How to Get your Children to Read Books - without losing your sanity
Kids don’t read anymore – or so they say.
In a way, who can blame kids? Surrounded by YouTube, game consoles, iPhones, iPads, iTouch and other i’s on the verge of release, it’s easy to get caught up in the push notifications, new apps and games, and constant interaction offered by such device.
I can definitely relate: I struggle with iPhone and Netflix addiction myself.But is it fair to say that kids don’t read anymore or, more specifically, that they don’t want to read?
The importance of early literacy has been proved time and time again. Evidence has shown that children who read regularly or read for enjoyment develop better language and communication skills, score higher in various subjects in school and, most importantly, have stronger critical-thinking and analytical skills.
The proof is there, and every parent wants their children to succeed. But how do you get “Google Generation” children to swap their bright and engaging screens for a book? You know, those hard things made of pages with lots and lots of words on them.
My experience with my own son (very much a “digital native”) has taught me that there is a way to get children to “unplug” without creating a scene worthy of a Hitchcock movie.
Trust me, my son and I live to share these tips:
Tip 1: Let them pick what to read
Reading is reading. Whether they choose a comic book, a picture book, a magazine or a sports book doesn’t matter – they are reading. The point is to get them engaged by using one of their interests to show them that books can be pretty awesome! Maybe you loved Anne of Green Gables as a child but were bewildered by The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. That was you. So just give in to Captain Underpants.
Tip 2: Read together
Reading is a bonding experience. Before being able to read himself, my son would love his bedtime stories because it was a time we shared without distractions (i.e. my iPhone). Now that he can read, we’ve changed it up: sometimes he reads a page, then I read a page. And it can get very funny when reading comics because you can each play a character and read out loud using different voices. If your children are past the funny-voices stage, then try reading together on the couch on a rainy day; it can make for some great memories.
Tip 3: Make it a ritual
Life gets busy, and there always comes a time where there’s just no time for reading. Making it a ritual ensures it’s never forgotten. Reading together before bedtime is an easy way to integrate reading in a daily routine. Or how about my all-time favorite for early risers? Instead of being woken on a Sunday morning at 6 a.m., encourage them to pick a book from their nail-bitingly suspenseful vampire saga and to continue where they left off. No need to thank me; just enjoy the extra hour of sleep!
Tip 4: Remember the library
Some people have never set foot in their local library. Let me tell you, the first time I brought my little iPad addict to the library was the day I realized I should have done it earlier. The look of fascination in children’s eyes as they see the infinite number of options at their fingertips will make them want to go back for more. It’s also a great way for them to discover new genres they might not have considered before.
Tip 5: Feed their addiction
Some kids just need their devices. Like me, they might be addicts. That doesn’t mean books aren’t accessible to them. Nowadays, books are available in many different formats, and e-books might just be the way to feed their addiction while getting them to read. And no, you don’t need to invest hundreds of dollars (or euros, or pounds) in fancy e-readers. Many e-books are available in formats compatible with tablets.
And remember: regardless of the format, place or manner in which your Google Generation kids discover books, what you want is just to get them reading.