Some Tips to Get Kids Reading

In this digital age of unrelenting screen time, social media and diminishing attention spans, getting a child to sit down and decompress with a book can be a challenge-- especially if that child doesn't like to read.  

So, how can a parent inspire a kid to read? Here are a few tips that might help nudge your reluctant reader in the right direcion... 

Zero in on your child’s interests
Reading Mouse, by Val Lawton
What's your child into? What grabs their attention? What floats their boat? If it's video games or animals or magic tricks or Star Wars, guaranteed there will be reading material out there that dovetails with those interests. Check in with the library or local bookstore to see what titles are available that will match your child's interest. 

Let your kids choose 
Even if you think they’re above or below their reading level (within reason, of course!). If your 6-year old daughter wants to read the car manual, or your 3-year old son wants to read the 6-year old's chapter book, let them. Include differents kinds of reading  like comics, baseball cards, newspapers, the Guinness World Book of Records, cook books, joke collections, even the car manual… everything counts.

Shared reading
Get a few people together to read a story aloud in turns. You can even include the family pet. When your beagle, or hairless cat, or goldfish (or whatever the family critter happens to be) is lying still, get your child to read them a story out loud.    

Set aside a regular reading time 
For even just 15 minutes a day while dinner’s in the oven, get as many family members as possible to sit down with a book or a magazine or the car manual, and establish this time as a screen-free, music-free zone.

Set up a rewards-program 
For every hour spent reading, your child earns an hour of screen time. 

Start a book club 
Ask a few friends or family members to read the same book and plan a time to discuss it.

The movie-book connection
Choose a book that a movie’s been based on and reward your reader by watching the film.  For example, Madeleine L'Engles' A Wrinkle in Time will be coming out soon as a major motion picture. Or choose a movie that's already out that's based on a book, such as William Steig's Shrek! (1990).

Pair reading with activities 
When you're baking cookies, get your child to read the recipe aloud. If you're fixing stuff around the house, get your child to help by having them check out  the instructions and see if they can sound out words. 

When you're out at a restaurant, get your child to read the menu to the table. Speaking of restaurants, some night at home, pretend you’re at restaurant, and have your child take everyone's order at the table with a pad and pencil. Then, get them to leave a bill for you. Taking it up a notch,  get your kids to design and write up a menu for the evening meal.

Play word games 
There are the classic word games you can play as a family...  Scrabble, Quiddler, Boggle and Banagrams, to name a few. When you're in the car driving between karate class and the tap dance studio, play the license plate game-- can you spot a car with a J in the plate number.  And while they're at it, can you think of a word that starts with the letter J? There's also the city game – think of the name of a city, e.g., Calgary. Then the next person has to think of a city that starts with the last letter of that city, e.g., Yellowknife, possibly followed by Edmonton, New York, Kindersley... (you get the idea).

And, of course, the two most important tips are... 
1. Read aloud to your kids at bedtime for as long as they'll let you, AND
2. Leave books / magazines / reading material lying around the house – let your kids catch YOU reading…


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