I have a very distinct memory of the first moment I realized I was destined to be a book worm. For some reason after dinner one night, the book Little House on The Prairie by Laura Ingalls caught my eye and I immediately started reading. My Dad walked by and said “Are you reading instead of watching TV?” with astonishment in his voice. I remember smiling sheepishly and nodding. He gave the biggest smile and said “I am so proud of you.” That was it, I was addicted. Whether it was the praise, the story, or both, from then on books and I have been inseparable.
Asking my dad about it later, as an adult, he said he has no recollection of this moment that was so memorable for me. Apparently it wasn’t part of a plot to get me reading, but it sure worked! Getting your child excited about reading today when our world is dominated by technology is even more challenging. With this in mind, how can you get your child excited about sitting down quietly with a book?
- Learn From Your Own Experiences: What turned you into a reader, or better yet what deterred you from being a reader? Use your experience with reading as a way to learn what worked and didn’t work for you as a child.
- Don’t Force It: Telling your child they have to do something automatically makes it a chore. Don’t lump reading in with activities like cleaning their room, making their bed or doing their homework. Make it something they can look forward to, not an obligation.
- Go With Their Interests: Let them choose what they want to read. Books should be appropriate for their reading and age level, but don’t make your child read a book they have no interest in just because you think it will be educational. This leads me to my next point…
- Realize That All Reading is Educational: You might be skeptical if your son comes home with a book entitled Captain Underpants or The Day My Butt Went Psycho, but these books can be a great way to get kids into reading who might otherwise not be. The more you read the more vocabulary you know and you improve your comprehension of material. Any reading is good reading.
- Praise: learn from my story. Acknowledge and praise your child when they choose to read but never punish them for not reading as a leisure activity.
- Take Trips to the Library: the library is probably one of the most underused free resources available in the city of Toronto. The Toronto Public Library has a ton of books for kids and teens, as well as a bunch of free programs to get your child excited about reading. You can check out some of their programs here.
- Lead by Example: if you want your child to be a reader, you should be reading yourself. You can’t get upset about your child’s lack of interest in books if it’s something you hate as well. Start by figuring out what you like so you can be a positive example for your child.