Updated: May 5, 2019
I think children come in two settings: they love to read or they hate to read. Some kids are reading chapter books for fun and others see reading as a chore. For parents with kids who don’t want to read, it is frustrating and tiresome to get them to finish their reading assignments (or even start!). You’ve tried bribery, limiting screen time, taking away distractions, and every other parenting technique to get them to sit down and read. Don’t be discouraged. It’s never too late to help your children learn to love to read. Here are a few more tools you can add to your parenting box to help encourage your children to read.
1. Ask yourself, do you read? Even if you’re not an avid bookworm, do your kids see you read something that isn't on social media? Kids are sponges, and they want to imitate their parents. If they don’t see you read, then why should they? I would encourage you to find time in your busy schedule to squeeze in a few minutes of reading; you might enjoy it.
2. Read together. If you haven't been able to read to your children due to work schedules or limited resources, make it a goal to start now. Your children will love the attention, and you will love the memories. Even teenagers could use some help when reading classic books for their English class. Most of the time they get frustrated because they may not understand what they are reading. You can help by reading the same book and then talking to them about it. You can pick a specific time of day to read together. By setting aside a time to read together, you are showing your children love and support. Also, if they are reading a challenging book, you can sympathize with them and work together to get through it.
3. Go to the library. Although libraries seem old-fashioned, they are treasure troves. You can teach your children how to take care of something that is borrowed and give them plenty of options as to what to read. Take advantage of the library's story times so your children can be exposed to as many books as possible. They could also make new friends there. Many libraries will have reading programs with incentives to motivate your kids to keep reading throughout the year. They could also have book sales where you can find great books for low prices. Libraries have stayed around because they are useful. Find out what your nearest library offers!
4. Start your own library. This may seem daunting, especially if your family lives on a limited income. Start slowly by purchasing one or two books a month or whatever you can afford. You can also ask family and friends to gift books instead of toys. This is very important because studies have been completed that show how influential books are in the home. According to Dr. Joanna Sikora of Australian University, who performed a study between teenagers who had books at home and those who did not, she stated, "Adolescent exposure to books compensates for shortcomings not only in adult literacy but also numeracy: its impacts are equivalent to additional years of education" (Flood). This means that those teenagers who had books in their homes had an educational advantage than those who did not. Even if the teens who had books were to miss school, they still were able to keep up with the other students. You want your children to succeed in this life and you can help them by giving them books.
5. Try an audiobook. Some children would rather listen than see the words. Instead of listening to the radio in the car, rent an audiobook from the library or download one on your phone. If you commute on a bus or train, have your children listen to books instead of videos while you travel. You and your children can fly through so many books by listening to them throughout the day.
6. Try every kind of book. There are science books with large and clear pictures, choose your adventure books, instruction books, and even comic books. The list goes on and on. Your child doesn't need to be restricted to lengthy chapter books without pictures. Let them decide what kinds of books interest them. You could even try electronic books. Your children can change the font size, how many lines per page, and do activities while they read. This is a way you can use technology for good.
7. Visit museums. You will be surprised to find out how much there is to read at art exhibits, science centers, and historical displays. While visiting a museum, read together with your children all of the signs and explanations connected to the exhibits. Your children will learn new words and visually see what they mean. Try to research when museums will have exhibits that will interest your children, and if you can find discounted tickets. Some museums also have discounted or free days every month. Or you can look into a city pass that can include tickets to several attractions and save you money.
Your children deserve every chance to improve their education and their lives. You can help them by taking that extra step to show them just how important it is to read. If your child struggles to recognize letters or read "sight" words, please let us know so we can help too.
Flood, Alison. “Growing up in a House Full of Books Is Major Boost to Literacy and Numeracy, Study Finds.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 10 Oct. 2018, www.theguardian.com/books/2018/oct/10/growing-up-in-a-house-full-of-books-is-major-boost-to-literacy-and-numeracy-study-finds.