It’s September, the kids are back to school – and chances are the complaints about homework are already rolling in. While you’re dealing with the whining and whimpering, you may also be worrying that your kids will never develop the same love for reading you enjoy. Never fear! Whether your child is six or 16, a love for reading is definitely something you can teach. These tips will help.
Let your child choose. While you may want your fourth grader to read the Nancy Drew series you loved as a kid, she may be more interested in reading Lauren Myracle’s Flower Power Books. Children have plenty of required reading for school, and forcing them to read what you like or think they should read will only backfire. As long as the book is appropriate for your child’s age and reading level, encourage his love for reading by letting him read what he wants.
Read with your child. If your child is just learning to read or struggles with reading skills, reading together can improve their ability, develop confidence, and foster a love for reading. Find a “just for fun” book and try alternating chapters or even lines if you’re working with a young reader. Try to read together at a time when you’re both happy and relaxed, stay positive and patient, and quit before either of you becomes tired or frustrated.
Talk about books. If your child reads alone, asking about the book he’s reading is a great way to encourage his love for reading. Ask him to describe the plot, talk about his favorite characters, or discuss issues like friendship or confrontation. Then, tell them about what you’re reading, too! Describe the career challenges that Alex Stone has to overcome for your daughter – or tell your son about the struggles Jack Davis faces even as a tough guy who used to be in the FBI.
Listen to audiobooks in the car. Between soccer practice, piano lessons and Boy Scouts, you probably feel like the family chauffeur – but you can turn all that driving time into a love for reading by choosing an audiobook to enjoy with your child. Listen to it every time you drive to a specific place – Harry Potter on the way to pottery class! – and then talk about what you heard on the drive home.
Start a family reading competition. Based on the reading levels of the members of your household, base your competition on the number of books or the number pages each family member reads for pleasure. Let the winner pick the restaurant you go to for family dinner or choose the movie you watch on family movie night.
Know when to back off. Sometimes, your children are overwhelmed with school work and extracurricular activities, and the last thing they want to do is pick up a book for fun. That’s okay! Give your kids a break if they need it – and have an awesome new book on hand for whenever they’re read to read again.
A little encouragement will go a long way to helping your child develop a love for reading. Make reading a habit in your household, and with a little luck, your kids will pick it up – along with a good book!