Are you struggling to encourage your kids to read in their spare time? You’re not alone. In the busy lives we lead today, reading often competes with many screen-related activities. When there’s Netflix, Pokemon Go, and a host of other games available online, it can be a challenge to get kids to drop their iPhones and iPads to read for pleasure.
However, engaging children in great books isn’t tough. Here are 4 tips on how parents can encourage reluctant readers to pick up a book.
- Let Your Kids Choose What They Want to Read
Book choice is an important component of the reading process. As adults, we very rarely read anything that we either don’t love or enjoy. Why then do we insist that children must read cover to cover something they don’t like? Letting your children choose their own books is vital in helping them to develop into strong, self-sufficient readers. Doing so will also encourage them to read for pleasure. Allow them the freedom to choose books they enjoy or simply find entertaining, whether it’s novelty books with interactive elements or graphic novels – even casual literature like magazines and newspapers are fine. Also, make regular visits to the bookstore as part of your family’s routine – these trips are simple ways to drive reading passion.
- Plan ‘Screen Free Nights’
Make ‘screen free nights’ a part of the family’s weekly routine to get your kids used to picking up a book. Every member of the family should participate in this activity, because when parents are avid readers and actively talk about books with their children, they are establishing a climate at home where books are valued and cherished. Once reading time is over, have a discussion about what everyone’s read, favourite characters, and interesting plot lines. Talking about your favourite books and parts of books with your children can lead to the discovery of new reading material about shared interests. Ultimately, it’s also a great way to spend some precious, quality time together as a family.
- Relax & Make Reading Time Fun
The simplest way to encourage children to engage in reading is to relax around the process. The physical location can make a real difference to how the reading is perceived and enjoyed. Try lying down on the lounge room floor, Mum and Dad’s bed, or outside under a tree. Avoid reading near the homework table or where there’s a lot of background noise. Introduce an element of fun to the entire reading process, too. Read together with funny voices and try humorous books to engage the reluctant readers in your family. You should aim for no more than ten minutes reading together – just enough to encourage the kids to come back tomorrow. Set a timer if you need to, it will encourage them to ask for a minute or two more when reading time comes to an end.
- Mix Books with Movies
Encouraging children to seek out books based on popular film and television programs is a great way to extend their interests beyond watching the screen alone. After reading, discuss how the story varies between the visual and print versions and ask them which they prefer and why. There are some exciting film adaptations coming out in 2016 based on popular children’s books including The BFG, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Incentivise your kids to read it before they see it!
Ready to get your little ones to pick up a book? Choose from a range of children’s books from Dymocks online.
**Article written by Ryan Spencer. Ryan Spencer is Dymocks Literacy Expert and State Director of the Australian Literacy Educator’s Association.