As parents we strive to help your children become the best they can be and part of that is instilling in them at an early age the love of knowledge. For many parents knowing how to cultivate a love of reading in your children is difficult to discover. It can be difficult in today's society of video games, smartphones and instant gratification to engage our children in the art of storytelling.
Of course, you can do everything “right” and still end up with a child that doesn't like to read (1 of my 3 children hates to read and it makes me so sad), but here are some tips that will help you to reach your children and invest in their future by giving them a desire to read.
Read to Them Daily: This can be tough for some parents to stop and take the time for, but even a single chapter a day will be a great start toward helping your child get hooked on books. Start reading as early as infancy. Infants and toddlers love the sound of their parents voices and reading simple bedtime stories or poetry to them will not only help them learn how great stories can be, but also help soothe them. As the child gets older continue the tradition of bedtime stories as a bonding time and encouragement to them to read to themselves as well.
Engage their Passions: Do you have a little girl who loves all things that involve Princesses? How about a little boy who loves dinosaurs or dragons? A tween who loves fashion and makeup or an older boy who is into Minecraft or the current super hero movies? Encourage them by giving them books that are about their preferences. A book about something they have no interest in isn't going to encourage them to read more, it will do the opposite.
Watch the Movies: While this is one that is often said to be a cheat, it can be very successful for those kids who love movie series. With my oldest (the one who hates to read and has some serious reading comprehension problems), seeing the “Hunger Games” movies made him want to read the books, especially after I told him how much from the books was left out of the movies! Youth and teen books are being made in to movies more than ever! Every year a new series will start and it is a great way to get your kid hooked on a storyline that you can then given them the following books to complete.
Make it Competitive: Challenge older children to a reading race with each other or even with you. See who can complete a book first (reasonably, not going without sleep). The winner gets to choose dinner, activity, etc. The winner must be able to give an accurate synopsis of the book so no cliffs notes or skimming can be done. This is a great way to get your kids back into reading if they distract easily. It's also a great way to do something together you can then talk about over dinner. Check to see if your school district participates in a “Reading Olympics” program. My middle child signed up for the Reading Olympics this year and ended up reading about 25 books in just 4 months!
Read the Classics: Go back to the classic stories of your childhood. Mark Twain's works, Jules Verne and even William Shakespeare. Often the classics have more appeal because the time they take place in is so drastically different than today. Some even appear to be supernatural or other wordly and that is a great appeal to tween/teen boys. (many are available as free Kindle downloads now, so you won't even lose any money if they don't respond well to this idea). While you are at it – you might want to read them again. You would be amazed at how much more you may like some of the books that you were “forced” to read in middle and high school, now that you are an adult!
Let them See Your Love of Reading: Reading is one of my biggest passions and I am always trying to carve out time to read. I have never been one to read in bed, so my children see me almost every day sitting in the family room reading a book. I do admit that I often exaggerate my reactions to what I am reading (such as, when something is funny that would make me smile, if I know that they are around, I might make a point to laugh out loud) for their benefit – so that they can see how much joy reading can give a person.
In recent years the popular movies Twilight, Hunger Games, Divergent, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Ender's Game and more have brought many children back to the library to read. Your children can follow this new trend when you set about learning how to cultivate a love of reading in your children. No matter what the ideas above or others say, you must watch and listen to your children to find out why they don't enjoy reading and try to remedy that fact. These are just ideas that have been proven to work for some and could potentially go a long way toward taking your video game playing son to the library for his Saturday afternoon time with friends instead.