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?