Daily Archives: January 4, 2006

How not to encourage children to read

There are so many competing interesting activities for kids that reading often takes a back seat. Reading is hard. You have to sit quietly, work at it –especially at the beginning– and activate your imagination. No one feeds you the images so you can repeat them at will; you have to build them yourself in your head. Sheesh. What’s the point?

A good article, Top 10 child literacy spoilers explore why children may not want to read. They are so true, and yet so simple, that I can’t help but copying them here:

1. Treating reading like a chore.
Reading can be a magical escape into the lives and worlds beyond your own but it can become a chore if you don’t make it fun for your children.

2. Expecting your kids to read without being a reader yourself.
Are you a good reading role model? Kids are sensitive to our values and if you don’t see reading as fun and enjoyable, chances are your kids won’t either.

3. Overlooking routine opportunities to read.
Reading skills can be sharpened by everyday activities like reading cereal boxes and the liner notes on a favourite CD. Double up on the learning curve by letting your child pick out dinner recipes and then helping you prepare a special meal. Rediscover the magic of a bedtime story.

4. Watching too much television.
Turn off the tube and turn on to afterschool reading. But also recognize the tool that television can be. Many books have been adapted to movies or television shows. Read the book; watch the program. Or pair a favourite show with its counterpart in reading material. If your child shows an interest in science fiction, suggest a book in that genre.

5. Not having books in your house.
Make books readily available in your house by setting up a personal library in your child’s room with a collection of his or her favourite books. Make a comfortable and inviting spot to read somewhere in the house.

6. Pressuring your child to read.
Do you push your children to read? Be aware of how much tension you’re imposing on your child and think about how doing so affects his or her attitude towards books.

7. Failing to nurture the art of storytelling.
Make storytelling an important part of your family and culture by encouraging grandparents, aunts and uncles to share their stories.

8. Choosing your child’s reading material for him/her.
Does your child have input into what he or she is reading?
Tip: The library can be a wonderful resource for reading choices. Younger children especially enjoy the responsibility and entitlement that comes from having their very own library cards.

9. Selecting the wrong material for your child.
Is your child reading age-appropriate material? Be sensitive to the individual interests of your children. Allowing them to choose reading material that reflects their own interests will increase their love of reading.

10. Do you value the written word?
Writing and reading go hand in hand. Encourage expression through reading and writing with your kids. Keep an interactive family journal of notes to each other. Make a habit of writing thank you notes for gifts and letters to grandparents.

Just as you can’t be a good writer if you’re not an avid reader, you can’t become an avid reader if there aren’t books in your house, and the written word isn’t valued. Music to the ears.

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