While some children are born bookworms, for others, it can be more difficult to get them to pick up a book. Urban Family reached out for some helpful tips on how to get kids reading for parents from Theresa Kemp, an expert librarian. Here are her top five suggestions
1. Allow Your Child to Choose their Own Books
Make reading interesting by empowering your child to select books according to their interests. Let them explore genres, topics, and types of books, because the decision process helps them take ownership of the very books they wish to engage in.
2. (At the Same Time…) Encourage Your Child to Expand their Interests
While appreciating their interests, you can also encourage your child to consider other topics. As they discover other types of books, they will develop a desire to explore further. Inquisitiveness can lead children to become adept innovators or skilled researchers in the future.
3. Show Your Child How Reading Can Be a Springboard for Other Activities
My 23 year-old son isn’t a huge fan of reading on his own, but he will often hand me a book and ask me to read to him. The act of reading leads to a time of bonding and quality time spent together. Children learn in various ways, and while some may not pick up a book on their own, you can still use reading as a bridge for other types of activities that they do enjoy, which encourages reading for purpose. Children who are spatially-oriented might be interested in doing arts and crafts based off of a book they read, while children who absorb information aurally can appreciate the act of reading aloud as a means of spending quality time together.
4. Create a Culture of Reading
One question I am often asked by parents is whether they should reward their children for reading. My answer is that reading should be seen as a joy and pleasure, in and of itself. Instead of offering incentives to read, allow your children to see you reading a book and enjoying it so much that they see that reading is itself, rewarding. This helps develop a reading culture at home, and will prompt your child to actively seek his or her own ‘reward’ by reading.
5. Read Together as Quality Time
Reading together should be more than just an activity to build your child’s skill level. At home, reading should be a relaxed time of warmth, safety and enjoyment, focusing on the adventure that takes place. Let the ‘test environment’ remain at school! At the end of a reading session, ask your child if they liked the story and chat about any particular overarching messages the book may have had – those discussions are a great opportunity for bonding.
There are many ways for children to develop a love for reading, and sometimes, we just need to adapt how we approach the activity to show children how they can derive knowledge, inspiration and enjoyment from reading.
Theresa Kemp is a Teacher Librarian at Yew Chung International School of Shanghai, Hongqiao Campus.