Heather Conkin

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6 Tips to get your kids reading

If you love books and you have kids, chances are you want your kids to share your love of literature. Even if you’re not a particularly veracious reader, many parents feel it’s important for their kids to read. But I hear a lot of parents complain that their kids don’t like to read or don’t read enough. I don’t pretend to have it all figured out when it comes to this no rules game of parenting. I’m making it up as I go. But my kids do love to read, and they couldn’t be more different. Perhaps part of the reason they love to read it because I simply do not stress about it. At all. However, as I pondered this, I realized there are some things my husband and I have done intentionally to foster a love of reading. Here they are in no particular order.

Lead by example

This one is a gimme, but it’s true. If reading is not part of your lifestyle, your kids will have to look elsewhere for examples. I totally get that reading takes time and incorporating it into your life if it’s not already does take some habit shifts. Luckily, they will get some of this in school and maybe around friends, but there are some little things you could do in order for them to actually see you guys enjoying reading. If you read before bed, consider reading on the couch as opposed to your bedside lamp. Read during waiting times as opposed to scrolling on your phone or iPad; while something is cooking, while the kids are playing a game, etc. If your kids watch you read, they will imitate what you do, or at the very least, they will consider this normal behavior.

Let them be around other readers

I think this one has had an impact on my kids beyond what I can quantify. My mom is a librarian and she talks to my kids about books constantly. My daughter has a friend that reads a book a day. A few of my mama friends are also big readers and my kids both see them reading as well as hear them talk to me about the books that have impacted them. I love having coconspirators in this. Sometimes your kids are going to take what other people do and say more seriously. Just like a friend can be a bad influence, friends can be incredibly good influences. My daughter is constantly trying to one up her friend on books. I’m totally ok with that.

Discuss books

I love talking about books. They entertain me, make me thing, and open me up to new ideas. I talk freely about the books I’m reading with my husband and my children overhear everything. Not only that, but I make a point to ask them about what they’re reading and what they think about it.

Frequent bookstores and libraries

Several times when I’ve attempted to surprise my kids with books, they’ve accepted these gifts with a somewhat lackluster quality. It’s almost like they see right through me and feel tricked. They are more likely to try new things and challenge themselves when they have some control and say in their book choices, so we frequent the book store and the local library…well, frequently.

Let them enjoy what they enjoy

I’ve seen many parents push certain books on their kids. Honestly, I’ve totally done that too. I loved the idea of my kid reading Harry Potter at 6 years old like some Normal Rockwell painting. But you know what? Every time I’ve tried to manipulate what they’re reading too much, they resist and they’re more likely to stop reading altogether. When they were younger, their teachers (and my mom) encouraged me to let them keep reading the “easy” books as much as they wanted. It not only increases their confidence, but it keeps the reading flow and channel open.

Don’t push it

For me there’s always been the delicate balance of trying to help your kids build the discipline of reading without it feeling like a chore. Personally, I never loved anytime where reading what on a checklist for them because they end up racing through it or feeling like it was the same thing as sweeping the floor. Whenever I’ve pushed them too much to read, they end up feeling lack and resentment. But by incorporating the aforementioned habits, I’ve got two readers on my hands.

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