How do we Encourage our Children to Read?
Should children be forced to read books, especially during the school holidays?
These are the kinds of questions I often ask myself, as an educator and as a parent.
And what should I do if my kids are actually reading but I don’t approve of their choice? Am I prepared to argue with my 12 year-old son if he is reading jokes and algorithm books? What should I do when my 15 year-old daughter spends her time reading fashion reviews? Do I stop her from reading them just because I disapprove?
“At least they’re reading something sensible” you might say, in which case maybe I should keep my opinion to myself?
We all know that reading creates awesome imagination in children and leads to better creative writing. The more they read, the more vocabulary they learn.
So is there a specific set of books they ought to read? Do they need to follow any rules?
In the past few years, I bought so many books (my personal choice), which I left in strategic places in their rooms. I just expected my children to pick one of them up and start reading.
What a total waste of money!
Luckily, I managed to donate these books at a charity shop, otherwise, they would have been a complete waste of energy and effort.
So what lessons did I learn from my mistake?
With the benefit of hindsight I think I was being a bit of a fool to imagine that if I left the books lying around they’d suddenly jump up at my kids and say “Read me!”
In choosing the books myself, I’d ignored my children’s personal choice and hadn’t given them the freedom to choose their own story genres. What I should have done was waited for them to pick their own books rather than being an over-controlling and bossy Mum.
The best thing we can do as parents is introduce our children to what is available in the shops or online retailers but then let them make their own choices. We need to accept that they have their own opinions.
It doesn’t matter if a child chooses to read a paperback or a Kindle version, and they can read anything from fiction to non-fiction. What is important is that they’re understanding what they’re reading, they’re having fun and enjoying what they’re doing. Reading should never be be a task, it should be a hobby.
My personal story/experience
When my kids were in primary school, I would often hear mums asking their children to go back in the classroom. Why? Because they didn’t approve of their child’s choice of book; it would be too thin, it wasn’t a ‘chapter book’ so, to them, it wasn’t good enough. I used to keep quiet and didn’t say a word.
However, I now advise my friends not to worry about the size and thickness of the book their children choose. They don’t have to be chapter books unless their child genuinely enjoys reading them and it’s their choice. It doesn’t even matter if your kids are reading slogans or posters, as long as they’re clearly understanding what they’re reading.
So instead of forcing your children to read, encourage them and help them find the most suitable books. Once they find a good book they’ll soon get hooked! This way reading will become a stress-free habit in the household and an end to arguments (hopefully!)
Why not set a good example and be a good role model by reading the books yourself so you can test and check what they’re reading. What better way to show that we’re keen readers?
Encourage not delegate nor dictate!
How do you encourage your kids to read? Share your thoughts with me below!