Getting (and Keeping) Kids Engaged in Reading
World Book Day is April 23, and it’s the perfect time to talk about kids and reading. Some kids always have their noses in a book while others resist, kicking and screaming. As adults, we know how important reading is, not just for entertainment but for navigating everyday life. So getting kids excited about reading will help develop their skills for both in and out of the classroom. There are a lot of ways to get even the most stubborn reader interested. Here are some tips.
Read Around Town
A lot of our time is spent in the car, transporting ourselves and our kids to errands, appointments, and school. One way to engage kids, especially younger ones, in reading is to read street signs, billboards, and buildings. Not only can you teach them letters and words this way, but they also start to pick up on the relevance of reading to everyday life.
Show Them Variety
Treat the library as a playground for the imagination. Making trips to the library and choosing books together can reinforce that reading is a fun thing. There is a variety of books, and there are librarians available to help without any pressure to buy. Of course, buying books is something else you’ll want to do. Going to the bookstore should also be a fun excursion for their enjoyment, and kids love owning books of their own.
Let Them Choose
The absolute best way to ensure your child is interested in what he or she is reading is to make sure they’re reading something they are interested in. This is harder than it sounds. We might be tempted to make judgments about what they read, or stop them from reading it. Don’t fall into this trap. More advanced readers might wander into themes meant for older readers, and you shouldn’t discourage that, either (within limits, of course).
Don’t Confine Them to Books
Some readers might not like books, but find ways to read from other sources, such as magazines or graphic novels (which some adults mistakenly refer to as “comics”). Japanese manga also have a lot of great titles for kids; these are like graphic novels, with long story arcs. Even if all they are reading is the guide to their favorite video game, the most important thing is to find something they are interested in and let them read about it.
Read With Them
When we think of reading to or with a child, we are often imagining a very small child. However, older children can benefit from reading with parents, too. It doesn’t always have to be you doing the reading. Spice it up a bit by taking turns reading a bit, or even sit on the couch together, reading to yourselves.
Talk About It
A significant way of engaging your child in reading is to discuss the story with him or her. Get your kids talking about the things they read, encouraging them to make connections and form opinions about characters and events. You can engage them further if you are reading the story too, asking more pointed questions.
Lead By Example
If kids see you reading, they will mimic this behavior. Set a good example by letting your kids see you read, and see you enjoying reading. Give them a kid-friendly synopsis of what you are reading about, and encourage them to do the same. Don’t sweat it if they don’t get the story right, or even if they tell you an entirely different story. Letting them tell creative stories is another way to get their imaginations ticking, and make them hungry for more.
Even if your child isn’t the bookworm of the family, there are a lot of ways to make reading fun for kids. Whether they struggle with it or find it easy, keeping them interested is a matter of finding things that are interesting to them. Reading will open them up to whole new worlds to explore, and maybe even inspire them to create some of their own.