by Kim Seidel
It may not be easy to get your child to read with all of the summer fun waiting for him. The good news is research shows that elementary-aged children who read only four to five books during the summer can prevent achievement loss.
The best way to motivate your child to read is to be actively involved with them in the process – no matter their age.
A self-proclaimed book lover, Chris Kubal strives to instill a passion for reading in her three children. Though her family’s reading habits vary, Chris consistently creates a home where books are central to their lives. Reading is part of their daily routine.
Kubal’s practices can be easy for any parent to create a passion for reading:
Create a home library. “We have a lot of books around here in our home,” Chris says. Books are stacked high on shelves in the kids’ bedrooms, including series of books.
Subscribe to magazines. Each family member subscribes to several magazines geared toward their interests. This keeps everyone reading for pleasure and for learning.
Celebrate the season. To maintain their interest, Chris focuses on holidays with related books she keeps in separate tote bags. It’s fun for her and her kids to read stories for special times of the year, including the summer. They also check out “fresh” seasonal books at the library.
Scatter reading material around home. While her two daughters are well on their way to a lifetime of reading, Chris worries about her son’s disinterest in books. To help spark his desire to read, she places inviting reading materials, particularly about sports, throughout their home.
For parents like Kubal who have a child who dislikes reading, be creative and think outside of the box. Try these following tips and see if you can lure him into an enticing book after all.
Tie-in books with movies, fun facts. If he loves movies, get him to read the books that relate to their favorite films. In addition, many excellent titles are chocked full of fun information, from creepy facts to world records. “These types of books are especially popular with boys who tend to be reluctant readers,” says author Francie Alexander.
Enhance their reading online. Allow your child to go online to complement their reading. One report shows that 64 percent of kids actually go online to extend their reading experience, whether they’re visiting author fan sites or social networking on book-related sites to buzz about their favorite titles.
“The report shows that kids who go online more frequently are more likely to read a book for fun every day. They just don’t want to let that book experience go, so parents should let kids ‘tech it up’ and extend that reading experience,” Alexander says.
Along with reading four to five books each summer, others studies show reading 20 minutes a day is a key to success for kids of all ages. Following are some great ideas to help your children meet that 20-minute goal and then some more!
Help kids find books to enjoy. Studies have shown that kids’ reading frequency tends to decline after age 8, Alexander says. “The No. 1 reason kids give as to why they don’t read more is that they can’t find books they like to read,” she says. “Parents should take an active role in helping kids find the books they’ll want to read.”
Never leave home without a book. Whether you’re traveling for vacation or to the grocery store, always take a book with you. “Books keep kids from getting restless in traffic,” Alexander says. “There’s never a reason for a child to say, ‘I’m bored’ when there’s a book around.”
Have your child start a series. Kids love to find characters that they admire and can relate to. Many series are available that fit various ages and interests to engage imaginations and to keep them reading. Have fun helping your child discover a series that he can enjoy for several years.
Let them choose books. “Guide your child to books that fit his or her interests, but ultimately let them pick their own book,” Alexander says. One report on children’s reading habit found that 89 percent reveal the book they loved the most is one they personally selected.
Don’t stop reading together. The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) reports children today are reading less often for shorter time periods. Their time is filled with other activities, including sports, video games, and television.
To keep reading on their list of activities, continue to read to your children. No matter the age, you can keep reading aloud to your kids. When your child can read himself, you can take turns reading and devour longer, chapter books together.
As you listen to your child read, you can interact and support her. Reading together is one of the most important things you can do to help your child become a successful and happy reader.
Does your child have a library card? There’s no minimum age requirement to get one, and kids can feel empowered, and excited to go to the library to choose and checkout books, when they have their very own card.
Not just books. You can also borrow movies, CDs, audio books, and more. Libraries always offer story time and occasional special events. During the summer look for even more fun programming. The Zoomobile will visit almost every Atlanta-Fulton branch with animals and a zoo staffer who will to tell you about the critters. Library programs are free.
Get a pass. With your library card, you can borrow a “Georgia State Parks pass,” good for free parking and admission to any of the 63 parks and historic sites. The pass is good for five days; be sure to plan ahead, as these passes are limited. Zoo Atlanta has also partnered with the Georgia Public Library system to provide family passes to library cardholders.
Summer reading. Finally, ask your library branch about its summer reading programs and clubs that incentives for each book your child reads. Visit the library branch near you, and keep tabs on your library system’s website for programming updates.To access the link to your public library system: georgialibraries.org.