By Ryan Spencer, Dymocks Literacy Expert and State Director of the Australian Literacy Educator’s Association
There’s no doubt that maintaining an interest in reading can present a challenge for parents as reading can sometimes compete with so many screen-related activities.
So how exactly do you convince a child to drop the iPad and pick up a book?
The answer is simple – make sure the reading process is fun and enjoyable – one that your child is happy to come back to the next day.
Here are five creative ways to make sure your kids stay engaged with reading.
- Give your child the final say
Book choice is a vital component of reading. After all, children need to be engaged in their reading material in order to practice reading. Resist the urge to impose restrictions on book choice and let your child choose books they enjoy or simply find entertaining. For younger children, this may be novelty books with interactive elements like pop up displays. For older readers, it may be graphic novels or even casual literature like magazines and newspapers. It’s hard to foster a genuine interest in reading when every reading session is treated like a learning exercise. Try to avoid this and encourage your kids to read for pleasure.
- Make it quick, fun and relaxed
Want to make reading together the most fun time of everyday? Ensure the session is relaxed and interactive to engage reluctant readers. Opt for humourous books and read together in funny voices, or even do a family role play. You should aim for no more than ten minutes reading time altogether – just enough to encourage the kids to come back tomorrow. Additionally, change up the reading location every now and then. The physical environment can make a big difference to how reading is perceived and enjoyed. Don’t read at the homework table or while there’s a lot of background noise. Opt for the comfy lounge room or even under a tree at the park.
- Read it before they see it
Encouraging children to seek out books based on popular film and television programs is also a great way to extend their interests beyond watching the screen alone. After reading parts of these books together, you can discuss with your child how the story varies between the visual and print versions and ask them which they prefer and why.
- Incorporate books into your everyday life
Visit the bookstores on a regular basis and every time you go, allow your child to explore the shelves and take something new and exciting home. For special occasions, give books as gifts, and encourage your child to do the same when they’re off to a friend’s birthday party. The goal is to overturn the notion that books are boring and highlight the excitement and joys of reading a good book. Ensure you always have books lying around the house or even keep one in your bag so that your child always has the opportunity to read.
- Plan a family ‘screen free night’ every week
Organise a screen free night every week whereby each member of the family picks up something to read. Make sure you follow up with a round table discussion about what everyone’s read, favourite stories and characters. When parents are avid readers and actively talk about books with their children, they are establishing a climate at home where books are valued and cherished. Discussing your favourite books and parts of books with your children can lead to the discovery of new reading material about shared interests. Also, it’s a great way to spend some precious, quality time together as a family.
DYMOCKS BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CHILDREN
The 2015 Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report shows that kids love to read books they choose themselves and books which make them laugh.
Here are Dymocks’ top five recommendations of funny books for kids – buy online and enter the code SHESHOPPED for FREE shipping.
- The Bad Guys 3 by Aaron Blabey
- The Treehouse Fun Book by Jill Griffiths, Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton
- The World’s Worst Children by David Walliams
- Laugh Your Head Off by various authors
- Dork Diaries: Puppy Love by Rachel Renee Russell