I recently read an article by Karen Jensen, entitled Tips For Raising a Reader, in the School Library Journal, that I found very informative.
She suggested the following:
- Don’t fight about books. If you do, it creates a negative environment tied to books and can make children resist reading even more.
- Don’t use reading as a reward or punishment. Again, it sets up that negative environment.
- Audiobooks can be good. Studies show listening to an audiobook with or without the accompanying print book stimulates the same portions of the brain as when using the print book alone.
- Reading graphic novels is reading. Some parents resist allowing children to read graphic novels because they consider them comic books. However, the addition of pictures can help young readers put words into context because of those illustrations.
- Reading the same book over and over is OK, even if it is below level. Children like familiar. Think how many times they will watch a movie. If they enjoy a book, they understand it better each time it is read.
- Buy magazine subscriptions for your children about subjects they love. In fact, ask for their suggestions. Most magazines have lots of words and, again, the pictures help them put what they are reading in context.
- When watching TV, turn on the captions. They may or not read them, but placing those words in front of them gives them another opportunity to read. It also exposes them to words above their reading level.
- Fill your home with books. Of course, this could be expensive, but it does not need to be. Consider used book sales, garage sales and my favorite, the public library.
- Model reading. Show your children how enjoyable reading can be by showing them.
- Set up special reading places. A pillow and good lighting can make any spot work. A reading fort could be great, too.
- Carry books with you all the time. You can pull them out when waiting anywhere. Young people can read in the car. Books will keep them occupied while waiting for a meal in a restaurant or during that long trip to grandma and grandpa’s house over the holidays.
- Show interest in books your children are reading. Who is the main character? Why do you think they did that? What is your favorite part?
- Don’t disregard digital devices. They require lots of reading. That said, they should not be the majority of your child’s exposure to reading, but can be an integral part.
- When reading for enjoyment, let them know it OK to stop reading a book they cannot get into.
- Free choice is important. Let them read what interests them.
- Set up a regular reading time each day, when everyone pulls out reading material. Make it a family event.
- Books can provide ideas, adventure, hope, goals and much more. They can allow you to imagine the impossible and escape the mundane. Life is much richer with books. It is important to share them with your children.