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10 Important Tips for Getting Children to Read
21 July 2008 07:00 am
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A child who reads becomes an adult who reads. Most adults who begin reading at an early age continue to learn by reading throughout their lives. Reading is more than a necessary skill it's a source for learning, entertainment, enjoyment and comfort. The skill of reading can be one of the most valuable gifts that you give to your or any child.

Still, the question remains: How do you get children to read? There are so many distractions in today's world - television, cartoons, and video games, to name a few - that it may seem impossible to get your children to sit down and read, let alone turn them into reading enthusiasts. As a mother who has raised five avid readers, I can tell you that it's nowhere near as hard as you might think. Here are ten important tips for getting your children to read - and loving every minute of it.

1. Let them see you read.

I'll bet you thought that #1 would be "Read to them", didn't you? That's important (and it will get its own tip), but the single most important thing you can do to raise children who love reading is to be a reader. It doesn't matter if you read magazines, newspapers or books. What is vital is that your children, from an early age, see reading as a valuable and fun thing to do - and the best way to show them that is to read in front of them.

2. Read to your children regularly.

Bedtime stories are an enduring childhood ritual, but don't stop reading when your kids outgrow being tucked in at night. In our house, we made nightly reading a part of our evening - not at bedtime, but in the living room. Even when they reached their teens, my kids would often wander out into the living room to listen if I was reading to younger brothers and sisters.

3. Talk about what you read.

I am not suggesting that you should give your kids a reading comprehension quiz every time you read a story to them. Instead, get used to talking about the books that you read in casual conversation. Mention how excited you are that your favorite writer has just published a new book. Ask them how they think Ramona (or Harry Potter) would handle a situation. Remind them about scenes in stories that you read to them when you run into similar scenes in real life.

4. As soon as they're old enough, get them a library card.

Your public library is still the very best source of reading material. Take your kids to the library often. Hang out with them in the kids' room and let them choose their own books. Get them familiar with the librarian, and let them see other people enjoying books.

5. Make a big deal of their personal writing.

Writing gives kids an appreciation for the written word and deepens their enjoyment of reading. When children and teens start writing their own stories, they stop viewing books as something magical and unusual, out of their reach. If your children write, treat their writing as you would any other book. Buy them a journal. Help them create and bind their own books. Put their books on the bookshelf next to their bought books.

6. Subscribe to children's magazines.

Books are fun, but magazines offer a different kind of reading and engagement. Too often, even we adults only consider it "reading" if it's in a book. Magazines are colorful, topical and fun. Many children who consider reading a chore when the reading comes in book form will eagerly snatch their favorite magazine from the post box the moment it arrives and not put it down till they've read every last page.

7. Make books and magazines accessible - in every way.

Buy books and magazines for your kids as gifts. Make sure that there are books around the house in places that are easy for them to reach. Make sure, as well, that the books you choose are accessible - written for the right age level, and geared to their interests.

8. Institute family reading time.

When your kids start thinking they're too old for read-aloud, institute a family reading time. It can be as little as twenty minutes a day, or an hour two or three nights a week. The only rule is that everyone in the family participates - shut off the televisions and computers and everyone reads.

9. Show an interest in what they're reading.

The single most valuable reward for most kids is attention from their parents - so pay attention when your kids read. Notice it when they read a book that you remember. Ask them what the story is about. Talk to them about the books that they like.

10. Watch movies based on books - and then read the books together.

The other way around may work as well. Television and movies don't have to be the enemy. When you read Charlotte's Web, rent the video and watch it together - then talk about how well it captured the book. Or reverse the process - watch Harry Potter, then read the book together and talk about how much more depth there is in the book. Either way, you're fostering a critical eye and showing your children that behind every movie or television show is a writer and often, a book.

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