How do you get kids interested in reading?
We all know how much information and knowledge can be gained from reading books, and it is fair to say that a large amount of the general knowledge we possess frequently comes from the books and newspapers we have read. If we can get our children interested in reading books from an early age we maximise their chances of being successful in life, and of being capable of securing well paid employment upon reaching adulthood. Of course the next question is going to be, 'But how do we get our kids interested in reading books in the first place?' The problem is so many children see reading as a chore, boring, hard work etc. What we need to do is find a way to encourage our children to want to read, not feel like they are being forced into doing something just because their parents and teachers want them to do it.
When I was growing up I quickly grew to love reading, in fact I was frequently to be found hiding under the duvet with a torch and a book long after I had been sent to bed. My problem was I would get so involved in the plot of the book that I simply had to read it to the end before I could put it down. It was not uncommon for me to finally finish the book and settle down to sleep when daylight was already filtering through my bedroom curtains. It got to the stage I could easily read my way through three books a day, and even on our trips to North Wales on holiday I would miss most of the delightful Welsh scenery we were driving through due to having my nose buried in a book (much to my Mum's frustration). The good news is that in the long run this love of reading paid off, and as a result I absorbed lots of useful knowledge along the way, as well as ending up with good spelling abilities and a strong desire to write for myself.
The Advantages of Getting Your Kids Interested in Reading
So firstly what are the advantages of getting your children or kids interested in reading? Some of you may turn around and list examples of successful people you have heard of who could barely read at all. The bottom line is that those people are rare, and this is usually the reason you hear about them. In a day and age where securing good employment is becoming more and more challenging, it is important that your children maximise their potential to be high achievers. The very basic requirement of most employers will be that their candidates can read and write, and they will quickly rule out a candidate who can't even fill in the application form properly. Some of the many advantages of being able to read include:
- Better Qualifications
- Better Job Prospects
- Better General Knowledge
- Better Spelling
- Better Punctuation
- Better Grammar
- Better Social Skills (can read menus in restaurants etc)
- Better Romantic Prospects (potential partners will have more respect for someone who can read easily)
How to Get Your Kids Interested in Reading
Getting children interested in reading can be done very subtly most of the time. For instance when my sister and I were growing up our Mum would read us bedtime stories every night. The ones I remembered best though were the C.S. Lewis Narnia books. We would lie in our beds riveted by the storyline, and of course when Mum said 'that's enough for tonight', we would immediately plead for 'just one more chapter'. I strongly believe this need to know 'what happened next' lead to our deciding to read and find out for ourselves rather than wait for our next bedtime. Of course the key to this strategy working is to read your children exciting books that capture their imaginations, and today books like the Harry Potter series spring to mind. I would recommend the following methods to get your kids interested in reading without them seeing it as a chore.
- Read to them every night before bed, making sure the books are interesting and exciting. Always finish reading at a point in the book where your children are left itching to know what is going to happen next.
- Add sound effects when reading out story books, e.g. make animal noises to represent the creature you are reading about or creaking/squeaking sounds to represent an ancient door closing. Children love this and it helps to bring the story alive for them.
- Buy them books that are on subjects they are already very interested in, e.g. football, horses, fantasy adventures, 'how to' books etc.
- Encourage them to set up a book club with their friends where they take it in turns to suggest a book they all read at once, then meet up to discuss their thoughts on the book itself.
- Enroll them in the local library. Most libraries have a children's section which is bright, fun and designed to capture their imaginations.
- Buy them a magazine or comic subscription, ideally again on a subject they will enjoy or are already interested in.
- Read yourself as this will encourage your children to follow your example.
- Buy them some books of jokes suitable for children. Reading these will make them laugh, and as a result they will then associate reading with making them feel good.
- Buy them quiz books and challenge them to organize a quiz for their friends . They will have to read the book to come up with the questions, and they will be learning at the same time on this basis. You could even get other parents involved and suggest it as a regular event. Each parent could provide the prizes for the winners when it is their child's turn to host the quiz.
- If you know a popular book is being made into a movie then promise them a trip to see the movie if they first read the book so they can draw comparisons as to which was better and discuss them with you afterwards.
- For those kids who are gadget and computer fans buy them a Kindle or other eBook reader, then let them choose a few books they would like to read from one of the online stores.
- Make reading a game for your children from an early age. Ask them to read out the names of products in the supermarket or information on the back of their breakfast cereal packets. Give them lots of praise when they get it it right.
- For young children choose books with lots of pictures or books that do things like play sounds when you press buttons. Popup books are also great fun for children.
- Because reading tends to go hand in hand with writing (after all you can't really write a letter if you can't read), encourage your children to write thank you letters to family and friends who have bought them presents.
- Keep books in the car so that on long journeys your children will read them to pass the time. Even games you keep in the car can be games that require reading out loud such as Trivial Pursuit.
- At home play games like Scrabble as a family, again this is a great way for children to learn to spell and to read.
- Challenge your children to create a crossword puzzle for you, their friends or even for a classroom project. Again they will need to check the spelling of the words they include as well as write the clues.
- With very young children encourage them to read out loud to you and if they are struggling with a word get them to sound it out syllable by syllable. Demonstrate if necessary by following the syllables with your finger below the text as you slowly read out the word, then get them to have a go. The child will quickly learn to do this for themselves when they get stuck.
- Create a treasure hunt, with one clue leading to the next clue and so on. You can then accompany your child on the treasure hunt and help them to read out the clues. At the end of the trail have a fun prize that will make your child want to play this game more often.
An Excellent Video
It doesn't matter what your kids read, so long as they are reading. Even if you don't think a comic or a cereal packet is very educational, remember that 'out of little acorns mighty oak trees will grow'.
I for one grew up simply adoring Enid Blyton books, and to this day I would highly recommend them to anyone for their children. I know they were considered politically incorrect for a while, but I never understood why as I just found them incredibly exciting, magical and educational. Try some of the following for starters.
#6 of 30 in March 2012 Challenge