During a conversation with a colleague this past week, I was touched by his enthusiasm to encourage his daughter to become a reader. He admitted that he is not much of a reader himself but wants to increase his reading to model it for her – how precious!
Children these days are growing up with technology and social media. Sitting down quietly with a book seems boring to them – their minds crave the color, images, and sounds which computers have to offer. Plain text does not feel stimulating enough because they have not learned to use their own imaginations or to exercise their own thinking capacities.
Parents could employ creative and innovative ways to help their children transition from computer games and videos to reading. Reading could be turned into a fun and interactive hobby for kids. Technology in itself is not all bad, and can be used as a tool to engage a child’s interest in reading.
Here are some ideas to ignite a passion for reading in your kids:
1. Choosing Books and Books Lists
Allow your children to choose their own books from a list that you have drawn up. This allows them the freedom to choose stories that are of interest to them while you oversee that the material is of literary merit.
If you are unsure about which books to include on the list, you could Google a list, speak to your local librarian or speak to your child’s teacher about appropriate book suggestions for your child’s age group.
2. Varied Genres
Don’t force kids to stick to specific genres, include books on varied topics on your book list. Each child needs to find what they enjoy reading about. Fiction and non-fiction are equally important in the development of a child’s knowledge pool.
3. Audio Books
If your child is too attached to technology, use audio books to begin their interest in stories and to get their imagination working. Once they enjoy listening to stories, encourage them to start reading the stories for themselves (with your guidance if they are too young). Audible has a great range audiobooks for children and teens.
4. Interactive Apps
Download interactive apps about books where kids can keep track of the books they have read and make lists of books they want to read. It is also important to have a platform to read and write book reviews. A good free app to use is ‘Goodreads’.
Purchase an e-reader for your child if they are not taking to actual books. Avoid e-books on tablets as these can be damaging to their eyes. E-readers, like Kindle, are less harmful to the eyes. Check out this Kindle for Kids Bundle on Amazon!
6. Shopping for Books
Take your children shopping for books at malls as well as markets and secondhand bookshops. This gives them an opportunity for an outing in a fun environment, where they can be inspired by other readers in the shops. This could also work just as effectively, by visiting the local library where you don’t have to spend money on books.
7. Involvement and Book Budgets
Let your children be involved in the process of purchasing the books. Perhaps give them a monthly allowance for book-spend. This teaches them responsibility and financial planning at the same time. Why not kill two birds with one stone?
8. Special Occasions
Make book-shopping day special for them so they look forward to it. Perhaps have an ice-cream date after book shopping. This is also useful for bonding time with your children and they will look back on these memories with fondness once they have grown up.
9. Reward System
As my colleague suggested, use a reward system to motivate your child to finish reading their books. You don’t have to spend money on rewards. Perhaps draw up a chart with gold stars for younger kids, or reward teenagers with time off from household chores. You can get creative with ideas, especially as you know your child best.
If you have the means and space for it, build a bookcase in your child’s bedroom. Collecting books will give your child a sense of achievement and adds color and character to their room.
11. Movie vs Book
Wizard of Oz
If a movie version exists of a book, tell your child that they can watch the movie after they have read the book.
12. Meeting Authors and Book Signings
Take your kids for book signings at local bookshops. Meeting the authors will excite and inspire them. You could also encourage them to email the authors or get in touch with social media.
13. Kiddies Book Clubs
Set up with other parents to host mini book clubs for your kids. Children can discuss what they are reading, what they enjoy about it and so on. Include storytelling time if you have young kids. Make it a fun with snacks, followed by outdoor play time.
Now I am not a parent and have probably overlooked far more effective techniques to motivate children to read. Please feel free to make suggestions of your own in the comments section.