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Reading books is a very difficult habit to shape and maintain for many children in this modern world. The temptation of playing the electronic games and watching the television has much stronger influence to them and also even for us. When children have to choose between electronic games or tablet and books, they might choose the electronic ones before the other. I always think that you are very lucky when you have bookworms. You might have unexpected favorite books preferred by children. However, you still should be grateful for their choice rather than having none at all.
The urgency to get the children reading books has made me thought a lot about some strategies. Here are some ideas that might help you. Most of them work for us and the others have are not.
Display the books
I have made a huge mistake when I put the books I purchased for children in a place that was difficult to reach or in an uncomfortable room. Children were reluctant to
Placing the books on the right place where we can see them easily will encourage children to touch and open them. Finally, they will decide to read them. It is the same when you read books in the bookstore.
Read aloud to them
Reading aloud to your children is not for only children who still cannot read, but it is also for older children. It is good to read aloud to your children to introduce a new book for them to read. It is usually hard for children to start reading a new book, especially the one without pictures.
In addition, reading aloud with some critical thinking along with the activity will help children to boost their critical thinking too.
There are other terms for Drop Everything And Read time, but I use to call the routine as DEAR time. In the routine, everyone, including yourself, will have 30 minute to a quiet time without any disturbance for reading a book. Even when the small ones who only can enjoy the pictures should touch the books and try to enjoy the content.
It is also great to have some discussion time after that to share what everyone has read.
Be a model
It is hard to ask children do something when parents themselves cannot do it. Children will certainly rebel when they find that their parents ask them something that is not reasonable for them. Showing the children that reading a book (not a tablet or e-books) is fun will be a great motivation for children reading independently. When parents give a model of a reader that enjoy the reading activities, children will try to exemplify to know how enjoyable reading activities are. In a case of illiterate parents, their curiosity and enthusiasm to learn how to read will motivate them to read. Illiterate parents might ask the children to help them reading as well.
Read with them
Sometimes it is very hard to get children sit down since they have a tendency to be active physically. Shouting or yelling to the children to stop moving will just waste the time. Accompanying the children to sit and read will be much more effective. You don't have to spend all allocated time to reading with them. Just guide them to the desired situation and after he or she gets the atmosphere, you might leave them to read independently.
I have met many children bring the electronic games and tablets when they go to the restaurant, doctor queue, or mall to kill their time. Those electronic gadgets are great when they are used for a limited time. However, when you give them options to choose, I am pretty sure that most children usually will choose the electronic games rather than the traditional books. Therefore, it is better not to give them any choice. Books will be a great thing to fill in their time outdoor when they should not move a lot.
Reading Log would be very useful for recording what children have read. It is also a kind of proudness and portfolio for the children. They have something to show to others their reading “achievement”. Some children love competition. Using the reading log, they can compete against themselves.
However, not all children are happy with the reading log. One of my children loves his reading log, but the others don't. I decide not to force them with reading log. Just do whatever they are comfortable with.
Discuss the books
Book discussion will lead children to think deeper and finally they will try to get the answer in the books they have read or new books that might help them to get the answer. Book discussion will enrich the perspective of readers. Children might get some new knowledge from other discussion members.
Rewards for reading
Some children are still sensitive toward reward system. However, other children are not affected at all although they are shown some great stuff. For those who are still influenced by rewards, you might arrange for reward system for reading book habit. A reading tree or a puzzle piece collection can be used to stimulate the children.
Some people don't apply reward system for a reason of self-conscience in doing something. It depends on your deal with your children and other family members.
Go to the bookstore
Going to the bookstore will provide children some visual stimulation to get them motivated in reading books. There are a lot of books displayed in the shelves. Ask children to choose books that the like first. Later you can help them choosing the books that you think would be suitable for them. Try to make a sense that they get the book they want like how they get a treasure chest so that they can value the book a lot.
Visit the library
It would be very lucky if you can visit libraries around you. Moreover, you might schedule a regular visit to the library. The borrowing and returning process will give a reading target for your children to read more regularly.
Reading books is a gate of knowledge and wisdom. Therefore, try to make reading books as a culture in your family.
Of course, there are a lot of challenges to achieve the goals, but you should never give up.
Adelien Tan is a mother of three awesome boys and a wife of a great husband. They are a home education family who live in Surabaya, Indonesia, where home education is still very rare. English is her foreign language, but She tries to use it in blogging.