When I was teaching, I had a lot of parents tell me that they could not get their 7th graders to read for pleasure. Unfortunately, it was usually parents of boys who discouraged them to read material such as comic books or sports and car magazines. I understood the concern of the parents: is that really relevant material? Nevertheless, I encouraged them to allow the child to read anything that piqued his interest.
While at the bookstore this past weekend, I couldn’t help but notice that Diego and Santi were starting to pick out books clearly marketed to boys. Although I like to stay away from any gender-biased children’s literature, the truth is, both boys and girls will gravitate to a book that catches their attention. Little Santi did not mind that the LEGO book we found was in Spanish! It’s LEGO!!!! It was very sweet to see his face while I read to him.
It’s always best to start introducing all books to children at a young age, but it’s never too late! If your child is not enjoying literature, try these tips:
1) Have daily conversations with your child. Find out what is interesting to them. What is new and exciting? Many times I want to tune out the Angry Bird scenarios Diego shares with me excitedly. It’s his interest right now and I have to respect it.
2) Carve out quiet reading time every day. Everyone has a busy schedule. Sometimes it’s easier to plop the kids in front of the TV in order to make dinner, but the sooner you manage to get kids into a regular reading schedule or quiet reading time, the sooner they will become life-long readers.
3) Model the behavior. Lately, I have been guilty of not following this tip. I spend so much time writing, that I haven’t picked up a book for me to enjoy in a long time. The boys know I read from my computer or iPhone and they want to do the same. No problem! The tricky thing though is keeping them focused on reading material while on a Kindle or iPad. Games are calling their name so this is when books are better.
4) Say yes to the book fairs at school and to the book fliers that go home for ordering throughout the school year. Plan ahead for these expenses. Books are an investment! And for some reason, shopping for books with their peers works! Do you remember circling the books you wanted while the teacher was still passing out the fliers? I loved to compare my book choices with friends.
5) Be involved when picking out books at the library or bookstore and ask the staff for the hot-book-of-the-moment. I am already getting eye rolls when I suggest something “too baby-ish” for Diego. At the same time, when I am reading that same book to his younger brothers, Diego quietly sits by to listen.
6) Judge a book by its cover. It’s the only time you should! Using boys as an example again (without stereotyping): look for keywords in titles such as “Stink, bugs, zombies, slime…” See where I’m going here? My boys LOVE that type of stuff!
7) Don’t give up! Remember that magazines, comics, newspapers, resource books and on-line media works too! The important thing here is to get the kids reading. Their future academic success relies so much on their reading skills.
P.s. Just for dads 🙂
Do you have any other suggestions? What has worked for you? Please share!