Make Reading Enjoyable for Kids
Reading is essential to the intellectual growth of a child. Study upon study has linked early reading habits with admittance to college and future success, and not only that, but reading is fun. A good story transports the reader to other times and places and stimulates thought and the creation of new perspectives. But it can be hard to instill a similar love of reading in your child for various reasons. Reading is hard at first, and it requires more work than watching TV or playing video games. Plus, it does not offer the instant gratification of time in front of a screen and is not always viewed as “cool” by your child or their peers.
- Encourage reading of any kind: The first books I ever read, much to the chagrin of my beloved 1st grade teacher, were R.L. Stein’s Goosebumps books. My teacher considered them trashy, but my mother did not care: she was just glad to see me reading. Young readers often get turned off from reading because parents and teachers feed them texts that do not interest them or are just way over their heads. Let your child pick something out that interests them, or ask other parents what their kids are reading. It’s perfectly fine to start out with Calvin and Hobbes or other “un-literary” books as well. Reading is reading, and will only stimulate a curiosity and a desire to tackle other texts.
- Bring stories to life: The more a child can connect with a book on a real-world level the more they will see the value — and enjoyment — in reading. Read before doing a special activity, or let an outing inspire your next reading choice. Have a child who has always dreamed of having a pony? Read Black Beauty or another book together before heading out to horseback riding lessons or just visiting a horse stable. Have a child who is obsessed with their Little League sport? Choose a book to compliment that, such as the biography of a favorite player, or even just read the sports page together in the morning to keep up on favorite teams.
- Let books inspire creativity: The best part of reading for many a young reader is the chance to let their imaginations go wild. Reading doesn’t dictate how a character or a setting should look beyond a few key details; it’s all up to the reader to stage the happenings of a text in their minds. Let your little reader go wild. Act out scenes from books after you’ve read them, or have drawing time after reading sessions to let them draw out their favorite scenes — or better yet, create new ones predicting what will happen next.
- Read the book before seeing the movie: I like this more than the other way around. Make it a rule that you have to read the book first before seeing the movie — it will give the child an incentive to keep reading, and allow for great discussion after seeing the movie. Talk about all the parts the movie “got wrong” and how your child envisioned it from reading the text.
- Lead by example: Believe it or not, what you do as a parent is what your child sees as cool (well, at least until they’re teenagers). If you read often, they in all likelihood will as well. Read in the living or a communal area of the house, especially one usually reserved for TV, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised when your child grabs a book of their own and curls up next to you.
Edward Stern is a guest blogger for My Dog Ate My Blog and a writer on accredited online colleges for the Guide to Online Schools.
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