Booking Through Thursday: Encouragment

Suggested by Barbara H:

How can you encourage a non-reading child to read? What about a teen-ager? Would you require books to be read in the hopes that they would enjoy them once they got into them, or offer incentives, or just suggest interesting books? If you do offer incentives and suggestions and that doesn’t work, would you then require a certain amount of reading? At what point do you just accept that your child is a non-reader?

In the book Gifted Hands by brilliant surgeon Ben Carson, one of the things that turned his life around was his mother’s requirement that he and his brother read books and write book reports for her. That approach worked with him, but I have been afraid to try it. My children don’t need to “turn their lives around,” but they would gain so much from reading and I think they would enjoy it so much if they would just stop telling themselves, “I just don’t like to read.”

Reading is my favorite thing to do. When I’m not reading, I’m talking about books and reading. I love being around books, sniffing new books. . .  Because reading is so important to me, I want it to be just as important to my kids.

A few years ago I started a bedtime reading club with my kids to get them to read more. I was already taking them to the library once a week and while it was helping, I wanted us to read more as a family. So I came up with the idea of a bedtime reading club and had the kids come up with a name for it. Some days we read before homework and bath time while other times afterward. The goal for us is to read every day.

Another great family tradition that I started was everyone had to go to the library together. Going to the library once a week and letting the kids pick almost whatever they want, encourages the kids to read. They pick up books by their favorite authors or old favorites to re-read. Yesterday my kids went to the library and checked out bags of books. Every child has their own library card and a maximum of 25 books can be checked out on each card. Even with five kids in the house, sometimes it feels like we need more library cards. The kids have different interests, so often we’re scrambling around to find various series such as Captain Underpants or any of the fairy books by Heather Meadows. We scramble around to find books by authors like Kevin Henkes, Jane Yolen, or Judy Finchler. It’s often tiring but well worth it when I see the kids all over the living room and reading their library loot. (Speaking of which, I’ll post what they checked out tomorrow.)

As a mom I’ve learned that if I want my kids to pick up “better” books, I need to bring those books home and read them in front of the kids. Laugh at all the funny parts, cry at the sad parts, and I’ll have them interested in what I’m reading. That’s how I’ve been able to get my kids to read a lot of great books such as Love that Dog by Sharon Creech and  Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Clearly. Right now we’re reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Ronald Dahl. We read a chapter or two a day. Once we’re finished with the book, we’ll watch the movie. After Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, we’ll read Neil Gaiman’s Stardust.

I don’t think I could ever accept any of my kids being non-readers. It’s one of those things as a parent you say it’s OK for other kids but not your own. Reading is so important that I don’t want any of my kids  to take it for granted. I don’t expect for reading to be any of the kids’ passions though I would love that. But to not read at all. . .

I don’t offer incentives for reading. I did at one time but no longer. It gets tiring, trying to get a child to read just for a prize. Now the kids all know that I expect them to read. No whining, no complaining. Coming up with family traditions like going to the library on a certain day every week or reading together, shows the kids how much I think reading is important. As a treat I sometimes take the kids on little outings to a local bookstore so they can pick out books they want.

So that’s my long answer for today’s Booking Through Thursday answer. Do you have any suggestions or ideas on how to get kids reading?

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12 thoughts on “Booking Through Thursday: Encouragment

  1. I worry so much that I’ll have kids some day who won’t like reading – but reading your thoughts here reminds me that it’s going to be largely down to me whether they enjoy books or not. :)

    1. Hey, Kris! Don’t worry if your oldest can’t read yet. Children learn at different ages, some as late as 9 or 10. Scary, I know.Just read to your kids when you can. It doesn’t have to be at bedtime, it can be during the day. Just whenever you have time with your kids. I often read to my kids while they’re taking a bath.

  2. Sounds like you are successfully instilling a love of reading in your children. They will always remember you for this. My mother inspired me to be a reader and we still talk about how excited I used to get when she would take me to the library when I was a child and I’m almost 47 now!

  3. The bed time reading club is a great idea! I forgot the weekly trips to the library I used to take with my parents until you just reminded me how much I used to look forward to that.

  4. My brother doesn’t like to read but he loves to play sports. Recently, he finally decided to try the dan Gutman baseball books and he really likes them. He even went and bought them with his own money! He’s in 4th grade and still doesn’t like to read (I can’t get him to try any other books except for the Gutman ones even if they are about sports), it’s really frustrating. But, at first my younger sister didn’t like to read either and now she loves it! I think sometimes you have to continue to encoruage your kids, but give them time. I’ve always loved to read so I think it’s helped my younger sibs see me read and love it.

    Bedtime stories is always good to get kids into reading and I think seeing your parents read is good too.

    !Kris-Maybe you could read to them when they get home from school or maybe even before they leave for school? I really do believe that reading to your child is important. Especially if you really get into the story! (my dad always did the voices and acted out the scenes, it was so funny!)

    Great post =D

  5. It sounds like you have a very sensible (and successful) approach to getting your children to read. I like the idea of it being an expectation. By offering incentives, you just place the power into your children’s hands to upset you or gain attention of any sort. Making reading an expectation, even a requirement, removes that power struggle. It’s a very cool idea. Thank you for sharing!

  6. My future kids will be and must be readers! Just like you, I cannot imagine my kids as non-readers! I would encourage them to save up and buy a book if they can only if it doesn’t interfere with their studies. Maybe, I’d encourage them to blog and review books too!

  7. Jenny: I think you’re so right. It’s a matter of showing our kids the things we feel are important. If that doesn’t work, hiding books from kids make them more curious about them!

    Kathleen: Thanks! I’m glad you reminded me how this makes memories for my kids. I totally forgot about that.

    Bookeywookey: I’m glad that you remembered them!

    Ari: That’s very true about giving kids some time. I have a younger sister who only likes to read picture books though she’s in the 4th grade. So I read to her chapter books.Now she picks them up on her own sometimes. It kind of helps that I read to her chapter books and then let her watch the movies that are based on them.

    Michelle: Thanks for commenting!I’ve learned to always be willing to change the things we do. If not, everyone loses.

    Lex: LOL! Great idea! One of my younger sisters wanted to start her own blog. It’s a good way to get kids reading and writing for fun. I try to buy any book my kids want. I don’t mind as long as they are willing to read it. Thanks for stopping by.

  8. This is such a great resource! Our little guy will be two a month from tomorrow so we’ve had very little concern about his reading thus far. He likes “reading” and being read to. We know that as he grows up there will be challenges, of course, so it’s nice to hear from other moms who have started down the road with older kids who have freer will. :O) I love the idea of a bedtime book club. We have a three book rule where Kai (son) gets to pick three books and we’ll red them to him and then I tend to read my own book aloud to him until he falls asleep. My parents did this and it “worked” for me…although maybe we’re just genetically programmed readers…not sure. :O)

  9. I think my parents reading to me before bed every night definitely helped me become a reader. My parents would also take me to libraries and let me pick out my own books, which was always exciting. :) And they had novels picked out for me to read before I even learned how, so I think there was always that expectation that I would be a reader.

  10. You know, my Mom and sister have been lifelong readers. I was not. In fact, I hardly touched a book when I was a kid. It wasn’t until I became an adult that I discovered the joy of reading. I think seeing my Mom and sister get so much pleasure out of reading really encouraged me to give it a try when I got older. So maybe if your kids don’t get into it right away, they may be inspired by you later in life!

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