Hello, Conscious Parent! Welcome to “Dear Katherine,” a Q&A with real-life parents/caregivers. If you’d like to submit a question of your own, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have two rambunctious boys, aged 7 and 9, who love the outdoors and staying active. They spend hours each day biking or playing basketball. The pandemic hasn’t been easy on them, so I’ve been giving them plenty of time to roam outdoors. Lately, though, it’s been harder and harder to get them to do their schoolwork. They’re way behind on their reading. As an avid reader myself, I want to instill a love for books in my kids. Any tips on how I can get them to read?
Many of the parents I’ve spoken with over the course of the last year find themselves in a similar situation. The pandemic has taken away so much from our children. Naturally we want to let them do the activities they can still enjoy—like riding their bikes or playing in the yard!
Of course, these fun activities can’t be a replacement for their schoolwork. But what if you can show them that reading is fun, too?
Here are 5 practical tips for encouraging your kids to pick up a book:
1. Pick a genre they’re interested in. Is your child into animals and insects? Try recommending “Charlotte’s Web” or “Babe.” Do they love a good adventure? “Chronicles of Narnia” might be right up their alley! Capture their attention with topics and genres they already enjoy.
2. Create a cozy reading nook. Whether it’s a small tent in the living room or a pile of pillows in the bedroom, create a space dedicated to reading. Children love having their own space to enjoy. Make one rule, though: in order to use the reading nook, they actually have to read. 😉
3. Surround them with reading material. If a kid grows up surrounded by candy, chances are high that they’ll like candy. The same rhetoric applies to reading: when your children have easy access to books, they’ll be more likely to pick one up.
4. Make reading a family habit. Children model their parents’ behavior, so make reading a shared activity for the entire family (yes, that includes Mom and Dad). Schedule an hour or two on the weekends just for books. You can even join your kids in their reading nook!
5. Read aloud. Reading aloud can make a story more engaging. Take turns reading chapters or assign a specific character to each family member. You can also try audiobooks, many of which have fun voice narration to captivate even the most distractible audiences.
6. Make reading fun. Create fun activities centered around reading. For your outdoorsy boys, a bike ride to the library might do the trick! Older children may enjoy starting a book club with their friends or cousins. They can even host their “club meetings” out on the lawn or over Zoom!
Bookworm, there are so many benefits to reading—as you know! Reading helps improve children’s vocabulary and promotes analytical thinking.
I have full faith that you can encourage a love of reading in your boys. You just have to make it fun and incorporate the things they love! If you need additional resources (or even crowdsource top children’s books) try our parenting Facebook group!
Love and Blessings,
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A 3xTEDx speaker, media contributor, parenting coach, and a mom of two - helping families thrive by using the Guidance Approach to Parenting.