Five Ways of Getting Your Kids to Love Reading
For those of us who live for the written word, it can be nearly heartbreaking to hear our children say, “Can’t I just watch the movie?” No one will blame you if your jaw drops and you become indignant and defensive at the suggestion. No one will keep you from exclaiming loudly that reading the book is always better than watching the movie. You don’t have to tell us; we get it. But how do you get your kids to get it? It can be one of the greatest challenges (and joys) to figure out ways of getting your kids to love reading as much as you do. Here are some tips on how to get the job done:
1. Pick books that pique their interest. Your kids’ minds function a mile a minute. Reining them in to focus can be as difficult as trying to explain the theory of relativity to a toddler. By picking books that speak to their interests, whether that means pink ponies, strapping super heroes or bugs that give you the willies, you’ll be showing them that reading can be exciting and personal. If your kids are under five, Reading is Fundamental offers insight into choosing books that are appropriate for even the smallest of readers.
2. Lead by example. Monkey see, monkey do, right? Read to your kids, and have them read to you. This will show them how important you believe reading is and that you are willing to spend time doing it as a family. And the real plus? Reading to them will give insight into the nuances of your complicated language. They’ll learn from you when to pause, when to show inflection, when to whisper, when to laugh, all of which are invaluable to real-world success.
3. Bring the stories to life. Differentiate the characters by changing up your voice when you’re reading. Draw or paint your own illustrations. Write an alternate ending. Use the neighborhood playground equipment as the setting for the story where tire swings become UFOs. Whatever you decide to do, be creative and watch as your kids’ imaginations skyrocket.
4. Make a routine. Yes, I know. Sometimes it’s hard enough to just get them to brush their teeth every morning, but weren’t you the same way? And now you brush your teeth without being asked (or so we all hope). It’s because you built it into your routine. Making reading a part of their day will ensure it becomes a habit that will last.
5. Get them writing their own stories. Reading and writing go hand in hand. Pushing them to be creative with the pen will reinforce the ideas and topics they’ve been reading about. When they write about what they’ve read, they are learning reading comprehension and retention. When they take what they’ve read and build upon it with their own stories and thoughts, they’re taking the comprehension one step further and putting it to practical (and fun) use. ReadWriteThink has some great tips on how to do this with poetry.
Instilling a love of reading in your children can be a challenge, but think of it as the plot of a novel. The good ones claim your attention, make you laugh and make you cry. As you journey through the pages together, as you scan word upon word, may you and your family come to know and love the characters you’ve created and the stories you’ve read. And hopefully the next time a family member suggests watching the movie before the book, your children are the ones to insist on the opposite.
Image credit: Aidan John-Morgan, via Flickr