Make reading materials available. Keep books, newspapers, and magazines around your house so your child can read whenever the mood strikes. Visit the library regularly and ask your librarian to help your child pick books that will interest him. Simply having access to books, magazines, and newspapers around your home will help children view them as part of daily life. And a parent who reads often is setting an example for his child and reinforcing the view that reading can be a fun leisure activity and part of daily life.
Let your child pick the book. Any book – even comics, graphic novels, or stories based on video games are good choices, as long as they encourage your child to read. If your child is reading, she is developing her reading skills – and that’s what matters. Letting her choose her own books also puts her in charge and gives a sense of confidence about reading ability. That said, also encourage your child to try new books – ask a teacher for a recommendation based on your child’s reading level, browse your local library and ask the librarian for recommendations based your child’s interests, and find lists of award-winning books and recommended books by age level at the Reading is Fundamental website (www.rif.org).
Let them abandon books they don’t like. Teach your children that it’s okay to stop reading a book they don’t enjoy. When visiting the library, encourage your child to choose several books. If they don’t like one, they simply drop it and try another. And if they do like it, they just might zip through and be ready to move on to another!
Make reading a natural part of your routine. Share an article during a family meal and encourage discussion. Talk about books and authors you like and what you enjoy about them. Listen when your children tell you about what they are reading in school or for fun. Don’t “quiz” your children about the books they read. Can you imagine the sharp decline in your own reading if someone required you to take a test each time you read a book or article? You want your child to learn that reading is an enjoyable activity.
Read with your children. Read some of the same books your children are reading, together or separately, and then discuss your thoughts and feelings about the content and the author. As a parent, you may find some new books to love, or re-discover old favorites. Many authors write books that span ages and generations and, although they may be defined as children’s books, good stories are still good stories. In addition to enjoying the time reading together, you’ll show your child that books aren’t just for reading and tossing aside but also encourage critical thinking and discussion, which are the foundation for ongoing learning.
Danielle Rice is the publisher and past editor of Piedmont Family Magazine. She enjoys frequent trips to the library and discussing books with her three children, ages 17, 14, and 10.