In a world dominated by technology, it’s sometimes difficult to make time for the written word. A lot of the time people just don’t like reading. It’s boring, monotonous, slow. They much prefer to watch a movie with fast pictures and bright colours and massive explosions. Don’t get me wrong, I like movies. In fact, who doesn’t love a good fireball engulfing a whole city ending in total destruction. But it’s indisputable, reading is good for you, it’s engaging, it helps us to understand the world around us and also to succeed in life, from education to interviews to work placement.
Yet many of us don’t read, especially young people. And one of the problems facing parents is how to get their children to read. My nephew is almost two now and I’ve often wondered about the best methods in getting him to read when he gets a little older. What follows are just four simple ways of introducing young individuals to reading:
Read with your children
As Anthony Horowitz says, reading with your children when they’re young is a very unifying experience because it acts as a common ground between the two of you that video games or film simply can’t replicate. I remember my parents used to read to me but most importantly, with me. The experience didn’t stop as soon as I had a certain capability. With my dad, the book of choice was almost always The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde. When it came to my mother it was books that were stories but were also designed to increase vocabularly.
This is a great way to encourage children as it is an active and engaging pastime that you are both invested in and I promise that it will be one of the most fulfilling experiences of your life. It leads to points of discussion and a mutual interest that will endure. I still regularly talk to my parents about books they might be reading despite our tastes in genre being different.
Sow the seed now and it will last for a lifetime.
Don’t force them
This is where subtlety comes in. When I was younger, and the same is still true for me now, if someone kept telling me that something was beneficial and that I had to do it, I was more likely to go the other way and never do it. I don’t think I’m alone. Children don’t want to have things forced upon them. So encourage them. Give them rewards, give them suggestions. Get them to read because they want to and not because they have to.
Give them the right book
I am a firm believer that there is no such person who “doesn’t read”. When I hear the words “I don’t read”, I immediately hear the subtext saying, “I haven’t found the right book yet”. If your child is interested in spies, give them Alex Rider, not Jacqueline Wilson. If they like mythical creatures, give them Percy Jackson and not some historical thriller about the 1800’s.
That’s where research comes in. Don’t let that dissuade you. Research nowadays with relation to children’s bloggers is incredibly easy. There are so many bloggers and vloggers and websites that review books that all you need to do is a simple Google search and you will have a world of advice at your fingertips.
Oh, and when I say that there’s not such thing as someone who doesn’t read, I’m also talking to parents who don’t read. Reading isn’t a pastime or interest, it’s a right, a gift and something utterly magical. If you don’t read and you’re looking for books for your children, why not try looking for something that might interest you also? Who knows, you may even enjoy it.
Read instead of doing chores
This actually comes from the James Patterson school of getting reluctant children to read. Thankfully the school doesn’t actually exist because if it did that name would really suck. Anyway, what James did was make a deal with his son, Jack. If he had to do work around the house, he could opt out and instead read something.
Jack discovered a love of books. His reading ability improved quickly and he started reading books meant for people far older than he was. It’s an interesting technique to use and it might be seen as a little contrary to my advice of not forcing them, but I don’t think so. And, what’s more, it’s proven to work so it’s worth trying.
I can’t stress enough the importance of getting children to read. It’s vital and opens up an understanding into our world that they would have never had otherwise. So try it. Try to encourage your children. Read with them. Pick the right books for them. Do the research. It just might be the best thing you’ve ever done in your life.