Summer is the season when we have to face a hard truth – and, no, we’re not talking about how we look in a bathing suit. With school out, we will have to acknowledge the sad fact that many of our kids don’t enjoy reading. In fact, they’d sooner stare into space complaining of boredom than crack open a book or fire up that reading app on their tablets.
Most of us want our kids to be recreational readers. We know the studies: Children who read more have better vocabularies, sharper writing skills and stronger comprehension of complex ideas and concepts. Plus, it builds knowledge across all subjects – not just the language arts. And yet most kids are not natural readers.
According to the National Center for educational Statistics, 53% of fourth graders and only 20% of eighth graders read recreationally every day. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
If your child is a reluctant reader, a new book from Wayne County Community College Chancellor, Dr. Curtis L. Ivery, is here to help.
“My daughter, Angela, was an avid reader as a child and she credits me for lighting that spark,” says Dr. Ivery. “I knew that readers have access to the whole world at their fingertips. I wanted that for her. I want that for all kids.”
That’s why Dr. Ivery wrote The Wonder of Words: A Parent’s Guide For Raising Children Who Read, which was released earlier this year. In it, Ivery shares lots of tangible ideas to help foster a love of reading in children of all ages.
Here are five of our favorite tips:
1. Make books a part of your home.
It might sound like a Captain Obvious idea, but think about it: If kids don’t see books, if they aren’t a part of your life, then they aren’t likely to be big readers. Ivery recommends filling your home with books for kids and adults alike. Have communal bookshelves with family favorites, and put bookshelves in each child’s room to fill with stories they love and new ones to discover.
2. Combine reading night with Pizza Night.
What could make kids look forward to a family reading night more than pairing it with a night they already look forward to – like Pizza Wednesdays or Fort-Building Fridays? Simply add an hour of family reading time to those banner days to give reading an extra positive association.
3. Get kids a magazines subscription.
Books are great, but reading magazines counts as well. Shorter blurbs and stories on topics that resonates with your child could be a great way to goose their reading interest. Even little ones will be psyched to get something special in the mail addressed to them each month.
4. Lean into their interests.
Whether you’ve got an otter-loving son or a daughter who’s into anime, your child’s interests can create a roadmap for revving up their reading. Encourage them to become subject experts from reading books about their passions.
5. Celebrate reading rites of passage.
A child loses a tooth and we make a big deal out of it thanks to the Tooth Fairy. But what about when a child graduates from picture books to chapter books or gets her first library card or reaches a reading milestone – like 100 books? Come up with ways to celebrate those rites of passage that mean a heck of a lot more than a lost tooth.