Getting children excited about reading isn’t always easy. More often than not there will be groaning and whining when you ask them to read a book. Here are some tips to help you encourage your children to read.
Set aside a specific time each day for quiet reading. It doesn’t have to be a long time, just 10-20 minutes for young children, perhaps 30-40 minutes for older children. Be sure to set a timer, but if one of your children wants to keep reading, by all means let them! Try to have quiet reading time in the family room. This way it’s more of a family event and they can see you are reading a book (or magazine or newspaper) as well. If your child isn’t reading yet, they can look at a picture book and practice turning the pages from left to right. You could also grab a book and read it aloud to them while any older siblings are reading to themselves.
Be excited about reading yourself! Children catch on to excitement coming from their parents. If you love to read and are seen often with a book in your hands then chances are much higher your children will also enjoy reading.
Buy them age appropriate books. This may seem obvious, but you would be surprised by the number of children who don’t own any books geared towards their age or interest. Is your child into airplanes, cats or astronomy? Do they like mysteries, riddles, or ninjas? Don’t forget about graphic novels, because comic books count as books too! Browse the books on Amazon.com or at your local bookstore to see what is available for your child’s age-range and interests. Books make great birthday and Christmas presents and most children have plenty of toys and gadgets already.
Take your children to the library often. No matter how young your child is, PLEASE take them to the library. The library is a fascinating world full of books, magazines, audio books, DVDs and more. Most children love going, they just need a parent to be willing to take them. If you’re worried about your young child being too loud or disruptive, have them carry a toy and remind them BEFORE you enter the library that only whispers or very soft voices are used in the library.
Take turns reading aloud. Some children feel really overwhelmed when it comes to attempting to read a book. Explain that you’re going to read the book together, then take turns reading paragraphs or pages, whichever your child feels more comfortable doing. Often this will take the focus off of reading the book as a whole, but onto whose paragraph (or page) has the most words. Continue to take turns and when the book is finished (or your reading time is up) show your child how many pages you read together.
Give rewards for reading books. I’m sure you’ve seen the different reading rewards programs where your child can read 6 books and get a free kids meal, pizza, or similar prize from a restaurant. These don’t always work for children because some children (like our son) don’t want the free kids meal, pizza or whatever the prize is if it means they have to read books. Talk to your children and come up with prizes in the $1 – $5 range that you know they would be willing to earn by reading books.
Some examples of prizes we’ve used in the past are small games, puzzles, deck of cards, yo-yos, lego mini-figures, and even more books! Our children are ages 8 & 5, so if you have older children these prizes may not be enough of a pull for them. Instead try offering a trip for frozen yogurt or to get doughnuts. I recommend that each small book (non-chapter book) be the equivalent of 50 cents, so a young child would need to read 2 books to get a $1 prize, or 6 books to get a $3 prize, and so on. For chapter books at the 2nd-3rd grade level I typically count them as being worth $2 each. Though we don’t pay them actual money for prizes (ours would rather have toys or books instead of the cash).
Best of luck and happy reading!
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