A common frustration of parents can be summed up with this question:
“How do I get my child to read?”
In an age of screen-based entertainment and busyness, reading has lost its place as a relaxing pastime. Though it doesn’t have to be this way. Indeed, to enhance chances of success in school and the wider world, reading is a fundamental set of skills which can be nurtured at home. Moreover, reading is a wonderful way to spend quality time with your kids.
Here are some strategies to help you develop your own reading culture at home.
1. Set aside reading time each night.
Creating a routine around bedtime is a great strategy to get your kids to fall asleep, but it also works for reading. Providing a distraction free time where they choose the reading material so important. Children can read by themselves just before bed, or they simply go to bed early.
2. Read together.
Pick something fun to read – Dr Seuss, Roald Dhal, music reviews, footy match reports or other beloved classics and read a few pages before bedtime or while dinner is cooking.
Choose reading material on a favourite topic. And yes, magazines are totally up for grabs. What’s important is to choose something that you like to read, then go for it. Ask “how” or “why” questions to invite conversation, and steer clear of “what” or “yes/no” types of questions.
So take it in turns for you and your child should read out aloud and the magic will happen.
3. Take them out on a special trip to the bookshop or library.
I know this one costs a little money, but there is something amazing about being surrounded by books; floor to ceiling of brightly coloured spines and cover art is sure to inspire.
Give them a spending limit, say $10, then see what they come up with after rummaging around for half an hour. They may even give you some good ideas for birthday or Christmas gifts.
Part of the magic of this is spending time together, so be sure to book a place at a nice cafe to chat about what you found at the bookshop or library.
“Reading is a wonderful way to spend quality time with your kids” – Mike
4. Discuss what you are reading.
Kids can see right through us when we demand that they read, but don’t read ourselves.
Showing off our own libraries or book-stacks is an important part of creating reading culture. This shows that reading is not just something that is to be done at school or by children to learn. It is a vital part of living.
Model your enjoyment or use of reading in your life, which will prompt discussion of the role reading plays in their life too.
5. Read their school novels.
Borrow their English novels and read alongside them. You’ll be surprised by the conversations that flow from simply being able to discuss the ins and outs of their book with them.
Apart from the joy of reading something great (books chosen by English teachers are often quite layered and complex), you then become a great resource for their upcoming essays or assignments.
If you choose, reading can be viewed as a chore, but re-framing reading as a means of spending time with your children is very rewarding. Instead of viewing reading as homework, choose to see it as a simple yet profound a vehicle to loving your child.