Reading is an essential part of learning and development for kids and adults alike. With the busy schedules and endless activities, it’s easy to put reading lower on the priority list of after school activities, but reading is essential. According to Scholastic, children who read one million words a year are in the top 2% of reading achievement. Reading is also linked to stress management, and research from the University of Minnesota shows reading just six minutes a day reduces stress by up to 68%. If you can get your kids engaged in reading it’s more likely they’ll continue reading on their own as they get older, and even as they mature into adulthood.
Allowing a child to pick the book they want to read can help increase interest in reading. Not all children are interested in the same types of books. Some kids with analytical brain may be more interested in mystery or non-fiction, while kids that are creative may love fantasy and science fiction. Take your kids to the library and let them pick out their own books. Giving them ownership in selecting what they want to read gives them more buy-in to actually do the reading. A library card is a free investment that will open the door to reading. A library card can also give kids access to online books, audiobooks, and even some streaming services.
When the kids finish a book, allow them to watch the movie or TV show adaptation. As you go through the movie, take breaks and ask them what they think about scenes or characters that may be different than written in the book. After you’ve finished viewing, ask them questions about how the movie stacked up compared to the book, which they preferred, what they thought about character development and key plot points, and what their biggest takeaways were. This combines the reading experience with the visual experience and encourages thoughtful discussion and reflection so kids aren’t just zoning out in front of a screen. Instead, they are engaged and thinking about the story and flow.
Another way to make reading fun is to join a group of other like-minded readers. The good news is there are tons of book clubs out there in many different genres, both online and in person. Can’t find one locally? Partner with your public library and start one for kids in the age demographic you’re looking for. Maybe they really enjoy the classics, or they’re more into sci-fi. Pick a book each month and ask the kids to read it ahead of the discussion. Your library might even be able to bring in extra copies for the group. When kids see other kids their age enjoying reading, it will encourage them to keep going with it.
Many of the literary classics are turned into performances or plays. Think of Romeo and Juliet. If you live near a theater, consider getting tickets to a local show. Read the book with your kids before the performance, and then take them to see it live. Seeing a play can help bring the story to life. Not all kids have an easy time picturing what they were reading about, so seeing a production can translate those mental images into better understanding. Again, this will also help facilitate discussion about what they read and learned.
Create a reading goal for your kids and hold a competition. Maybe the first child to reach their reading goal gets to pick out the dinner and movie for family movie night. Or set group goals. If your kids read X number of books or X pages by a certain date, maybe they get to go out for ice cream sundaes. Having a little incentive or competition can help inspire kids to choose to read over other activities like TV or video games.
Let us know what works for you. Happy reading!
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