How To Get Kids To Read Books

article10_image_mark_twainWhy do we want our kids to read books? Why would they want to read books?

Kids will try to avoid what they don’t want to do, and they will try to do what they want to do. There really is no problem in getting kids to read, as long as it is what they want to read.  Facebook posts, texts, tweets, sure.  No problem.  But books?  Nah.  Too long.  Too boring.

Parents want their kids to read books, or at least they should. Assuming they want their kids to be successful, or at least to be self-sufficient and able to get along in the economic world we live in.  Unless your kids belong to the Better Sperm Club, i.e., they have a rich granddaddy, this means your kids will need to get a job or have a business to provide for themselves.

What if they won’t read? says illiteracy and crime are closely related. The Department of Justice states, “The link between academic failure and delinquency, violence, and crime is welded to reading failure.” Over 70% of inmates in America’s prisons cannot read above a fourth grade level. (Attribution to Dr. Alan Zimmerman’s Tuesday Tip from September 19, 2012.)

What about busyness and distraction from reading? Please, don’t cop out and say kids are too busy to read what you need to learn to improve their life, relationships, and eventually their career.  As Confucius said centuries ago, “No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance.”  And that is something you cannot afford for your children. (Also from Dr. Zimmerman)

So HOW do we get them to WANT to read? There are many things to do, and I’ll cover them eventually; but now I want to stress just one: Kids need to know WHY they would want to read.  For toddlers, it’s easy.  We read to them.  They love it.  The pictures, the attention, the closeness, the bonding.  The marvel of seeing the mom or dad, or grandmother or granddad, turning scribbles and letters into interesting stories.  But for kids who are a little older, who are reading in school, first through third grade, it is now out of our hands.  I had heard it said that up to the third grade, kids learn to read, for the fourth grade on they read to learn.

So WHY would they want to read? They want to have fun. We must emphasize the fun side of reading and make them curious. Reading can take you places. Reading can let you see new things, do new things. It can improve your understanding of life, your beliefs. It can give you confidence and courage. It can give you a better life. But let’s stress the fun part for now, and just the part of this about seeing new things. One way is, again, to read to them. Another is to get books on CD and let them listen and imagine the new places being described. Eventually we hope they will, with your help, select age appropriate books that are fun to read.

Finally, mom and dad, how would you like to have a rich son or daughter? Would that not be a comfort in your old age?  Look at this article by Tom Corley about the reading habits of the rich and the poor:

Quote for today: “The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them.”–Mark Twain

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