Twenty minutes a day.
That’s the goal. Each child should read 20 minutes per day…every day.
For some, those 20 minutes fly by and are followed by begging and pleading for just 10 more minutes.
And for others, it’s a death sentence characterized by whining, pouting, bargaining, half-arsing it, or worse yet, pretending.
If you are in the first camp, WAY TO GO! Either you’ve created some super-special system or you’ve been genetically blessed with bookworms. The rest of us, however, need tips to encourage our kids to read.
(Or as I say, the prayer of “Please God, Help Me Teach My Kids To Read and Enjoy It.”)
The Please God, Help Me Teach My Kids To Read and Enjoy It Tips
Here are some to get you started:
1. Choose books they are drawn to. Kids are weird. They like weird books. Obviously we want them to get engrossed in Treasure Island, but they may be more interested in learning Survivor Man strategies. While it’s always good to offer suggestions that are at or just above their reading level, don’t steer them away from a book they have chosen just for fun. Remember, we read “fluff” books too and it is more about the habit of reading than it is the quality of the literature. Reading has to be learned; it is a process. Most kids cannot be thoughtful readers until they become natural readers.
2. Fill your shelves with books. Sure, we love the library, but we also enjoy purchasing books. And we do this for three reasons:
- Anticipation. There is something magical about choosing a book amongst all the books available at Barnes & Noble or Amazon. And more often than not, purchasing that book means it will be opened before we have left the mall parking lot (or the website, as the case may be!).
- Speed of reader. I have a fast reader and a slow reader. I don’t want my slow reader to feel under the two-week-must-get-it-done-gun or else it will be gone and I might never know how it ends. Buying the book means my child can read at her own pace and enjoy every minute.
- Hot series. If your child likes a certain series,chances are so do about 100,000 kids in the metro area. Encourage that interest and desire to read by not holding off on a book.
3. Don’t wait for bedtime. While that’s when most of us read to our kids, it shouldn’t be the only time. Keep baskets of children’s books in every room and a couple in your car (or purchase some $1 Kindle Books to load on your smartphone) for impromptu reading sessions. In addition, kids love seeing their parents reading. If the only time you grab a book is when you crawl into bed, they’ll miss seeing it. Plus, it’s a great way to get your kids interested in classics. They can laugh when you try to pronounce difficult names or titles.
4. Be willing to abandon ship. Dude, some books are just not the right fit. This doesn’t mean they are bad! If it is a CHORE to finish reading a book, dump it and start a new one. While this shouldn’t occur often, it isn’t uncommon for it to happen once every five or six books (especially for longer chapter books). Best rule of thumb….read 50 pages. It will either grab you or it won’t. And if it doesn’t…move on.
5. Create a family book club. We’re all more motivated to read when we can create conversations around a book. Choose some that interest both parents and adults and that allow kids opportunities to discuss and learn from challenges the characters face.
And here are some resources of the best books for a book club, classic literature or read-aloud book.
Novels For Family Book Club:
Classic Works of Literature to Read:
Books to Read Aloud To Kids Who Can Read:
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School and Other Scary Things by Lenore Look
The Watsons Go To Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis
Chickadee by Louise Erdich
Remember, reading is a LIFELONG skill and it should be fun. It won’t be fun if you are stressed. So don’t let the fact that your kids could give a rip about Harry Potter, while your friends kid of the same age has read all of the books bother you. Speaking as a kid who hated reading as a child and loves it as an adult, timing is everything.
What about you? Do you have any tips to help teach kids to read and enjoy it?