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From Gadget Use to Reading Books

By: Clarissa Mariano-Ligon, PhDFrom Gadget Use to Reading Books

Summer is here! For the children, this means no school for two to three months.  On the other hand, for the parents, this means looking for what their children can do during their free time.  Aside from joining summer classes, a simple activity that can be done at home is reading. 

Evidence shows that children who read for pleasure perform better in school – it develops imagination and creativity, broadens vocabulary, and improves language skills.  However, it is an understatement that children nowadays would rather use their gadgets than read. According to American children’s book writer Kate Dicamillo, “Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or a duty.  It is offered as a gift.” 

With this in mind, how can parents encourage their children to give this old-fashioned activity a try? Here are seven tips that can be done to develop a child’s love for reading – R.E.A.D. N.O.W.!

1. (Be a) Reading role model – Becoming a parent automatically makes you a role model, so why not be a reading role model to your children as well?  Show them that reading is enjoyable by simply taking the time out of your busy schedule and read for leisure.  Keep in mind that there are other materials available for reading aside from books – magazines, newspapers or even cookbooks will do if you don’t have a lot of time at hand.  Remember that actions speak louder than words.  When your children see that you enjoy doing this activity, they will surely give reading a try.

2. Enjoy reading together – Another way to develop the love for reading is through reading aloud.  There are instances when children get frustrated because they can’t read the words properly, which affects their comprehension.  This means they cannot understand what they are reading, making this activity less appealing.  Read stories to your children to motivate them to read.  Make it more interesting by adding some spice through changes in your voice and intonation, wearing costumes, and using props.  To make reading more interactive, you may want to try shared reading.  This is a strategy where children join in or share the reading of the book with their parents.   For this to be successful for young children, use a book that has repetitive words to ensure the participation of both parties.

3. Add variety to your reading list – According to J.K. Rowling, author of the famous Harry Potter series, “If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book.”  Check the kind of books available at home.  They might not be the type of book that captures the interest of your children that’s why they have given up on reading.  Give them the opportunity to choose the books that they want to read.  Keep in mind that their interests might not be the same as yours.  However, your guidance is also needed to help children choose books that are just right for their reading level.  Look for books that are developmentally leveled.  These books have graduated levels in difficulty, comprehension, and fluency that helps in motivating them to read while building their self-confidence.

4. Develop the reading habit –   Don’t use reading as a punishment but rather, make this activity a part of your family schedule.  Reading for 20 minutes a day not only significantly increases a child’s test scores but more so forges a stronger relationship among parents and children. Take turns reading and also choosing the books to be read.  This makes reading truly a family activity.   

5. Never give up – The love for reading does not develop overnight.  Just like other hobbies, it takes time and effort.  There might be instances when your children are not in the mood to read and it is perfectly okay. Don’t give up just yet.  Respect their decision but start anew the next day.  Try a different book or another schedule.  This might be more appealing to them. A change in the environment might do the trick.  Try visiting a library or a bookstore to check books that might capture their interest which in turn will get them back to reading in no time.

6. Offer them choices – Reading need not be always with books.  Chapter books with fewer pictures can be daunting to some children.  Be mindful of opportunities that come within the day that allows children to read.  While eating breakfast, food labels can be a good source of reading material.  On the way to school, read billboards and road signs.  While doing errands such as going to the grocery, allow them to help you get the items needed by reading the checklist.  These opportunities not only allow children to read but enable them to understand the importance of reading in everyday life.

7. Welcome suggestions – Listen to what your child is saying.  They might have ideas on how to make reading a more exciting activity in your home.   Treasure hunting might be a good idea where pages of a book are left in various places at home to be found only through the use of a map.  Cooking together, which involves reading recipes, can be another option or even reading the lyrics of songs while camping indoors.  Another way to get more ideas is to ask other parents for suggestions on how they get their children into the habit of reading.  

Keep an open mind and be consistent with these tips and you will surely have a reader in no time!

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