The key to creating eager readers is to create a culture in your home where reading is valued and rewarded. Here are some ways you can encourage and value reading in your home.
Set limits on screen time. Some students won’t read unless seemingly more attractive options are taken away. Numerous studies have shown that kids who have unlimited screen time don’t do as well in school. Limiting video games, TV and computer time is part of responsible parenting and is essential to making space in busy schedules for reluctant readers to engage. Two hours per day is generally recognized as a reasonable limit on total screen time.
Introduce book versions of screen favorites. Tweens are known for going through brief, but obsessive phases where life revolves around a particular movie, TV show or video game. Take advantage of an obsession by introducing related books. Make sure the books are at a manageable reading level for your child. There’s nothing that makes kids dislike reading more than really wanting to read a book but finding it too difficult.
Read along with your child. This is difficult advice to follow if you don’t enjoy reading; however, if you can force yourself to read at least some of the books your child is reading, it will give you something to talk about and set a great example for your child. Even better, choose a book you can both enjoy and discuss it together over a special beverage. Many books have online discussion guides to help you, so you don’t need to be a literary critic to have a good discussion. Your child will feel that reading must be important if you make time for it and make it special.
Give rewards for reading. Our local library has a summer reading program for kids and teens that gives prizes for books (or pages) read. When this program ends in early August, I sometimes continue it at home until the school year starts by offering dollar store trinkets or special activities if my kids keep reading. It’s amazing how a small reward can often motivate kids to spend more time reading.
Nothing benefits a tween’s education more than reading. By setting limits and creating a culture where reading is valued, you are giving your child the greatest chance of academic success, and you may even create a lifelong reader.