Rumors of the imminent demise of reading, common when television was the sole means of screen-based home entertainment, are recognized as somewhat exaggerated in the age of blogs and e-books. Nonetheless, much electronic reading relies heavily on video and visuals, and even mostly-text options are often organized in sound bites. If you’d like to see your children develop a love for true, deep reading—to get thoroughly absorbed in 200–500 pages of pure text and come away with serious new ideas to think about—try these hints.
Not to the point of getting so caught up in “how to create a happier home” books that your own home is less happy for being ignored! But if your kids see you obviously enjoying reading on a regular basis, they’ll accept that reading isn’t something people “graduate” from, nor something people do simply because they “have to.”
Follow the old tradition of a bedtime story every night. Or make every other family night a story night where you pass a book around the circle, taking turns reading pages or chapters.
If there’s a special program or exhibit, with activities for (or including) kids, that’s great—even if it’s not strictly a “book” program, librarians will be ready to recommend reading on related topics. But even if nothing organized is going on, you can visit the library to browse new holdings together, rediscover stories you loved when you were your kids’ age, compare favorite books, and even read (quietly!) to each other.
Bookstores—chain, specialty, or small-and-privately-owned—are rarer than libraries in these days of online shopping. Still, a day at the bookstore can be fun: browsing together, attending special programs, enjoying a hot chocolate and pastry in the coffee shop. If you find more good books than you can buy, take the two or three top choices and put the others on a list of things to look for on your next library trip.
Every child should at least sample several Newbery, Caldecott, and other award-winning and best-selling books. Get an annotated list and browse the descriptions with your children, discussing which ones sound most interesting and why, and choosing which ones to read first.
Help them look up books connected to their favorite hobbies, heroes, or vocational dreams. Besides getting them more interested in reading, it’ll be useful in helping them develop the goal-setting habit.
This is also less annoying to fellow passengers (audio entertainment can produce a “buzz” even through earbuds).
It doesn’t matter how “wholesome” it is or how much you love it: if your child feels forced to read it, resentment will keep him from getting all he could from it. Above all else, keep reading a pleasant experience!