One of my New Year’s resolutions is to read more. It sounds so simple, so how hard can it be? Life is full of distractions, and one of the first things to go is giving myself time to read, which I want to change. I love getting lost in a good book — that feeling where you don’t want to put the book down and can’t wait to get to the next page. I also feel strongly that one of the best ways for our children to develop a love of reading is by watching us enjoy it and modeling that for them. Here are some tips to help your child develop a lifelong love of reading:
KEEP IT INTERESTING
Finding books about topics that interest your children is key. They are much more likely to read if it is something they are interested in. But how do you find those? Children’s librarians, especially those at our local libraries, are great at making recommendations. Books, Inc. in Laurel Village and Chestnut Street have amazing and knowledgeable employees who are always willing to help. Another great resource for girls is the Mighty Girl blog (amightygirl.com), which features thousands of girl-empowering books for all levels and ages.
Another way to keep it interesting is by letting your children use technology. This is tricky for me, and call me old school, but I still feel there is something important about reading an actual book and turning paper pages; however, sometimes for long trips or convenience it makes sense to get a book on their iPad or Kindle.
Other useful technology is audio books. Depending on your children, it can be helpful for them to hear the words. The Audible app through Amazon has thousands of titles and gives discounts to Prime members.
JOIN A BOOK CLUB
My daughter is in eighth grade and has been in a book club with the same group of girls since kindergarten. They have a wonderful moderator who chooses challenging yet interesting books they may not have chosen on their own. Once a month they meet and discuss the book — theme, characters, plot, and vocabulary. My daughter looks forward to these meetings, and even with a demanding school and extracurricular schedule, the book club is a priority for her. She enjoys the books and the group, so it is not a chore, and I don’t have to bug her about it. My youngest will start a book club next year, and after years of watching his older siblings go for a special night out with Mom to a book club, he is counting the days until he can start with his own group. Keeping it fun, interesting, and social are great ways to help keep them reading.
READ TO THEM
One of my favorite childhood memories is my dad reading to my sisters and me every night. It lasted until each of us was in junior high and was a tradition I wanted to pass down to my children. It is not always easy finding the time, but we try to never skip. It is great one-on-one time with each child, and a wonderful way to connect before bedtime.
You can start early. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises parents to start reading to their children from infancy. For my 7-year-old, making this a nightly ritual and a priority has had many helpful benefits, including calming him down before bed, modeling the importance of reading, and developing a positive attitude about reading. I ask questions while we read to work on comprehension, and we always enjoy a trip to the library or bookstore together to pick our next book. My oldest goes to bed too late now, so I no longer read to her, but we have started reading the same books, so we can still have conversation and connection. We recently both read The Old Man and the Sea, which I loved reading again and seeing it through her eyes made it that much more special.
Help your children develop a love for reading by surrounding them with books so when they say they are bored, you can point them to a full bookcase and not a screen. Keep books handy so when you are waiting at the doctor’s office or at dinner, you can hand them a book instead of a device. I hope your new year is filled with many great books and time to connect and read together.
Liz Farrell is the mother of three young children and the founder of TechTalks, a consulting group to help schools and families have productive and healthful conversations around social media and technology. Email: [email protected]