Research

What does work

Two boys readingWhat does work.

Reading to your kid every day. The number-one thing you can do to create a reader.

Letting him see you read. Kids do what their parents do. If you don’t enjoy reading – fake it. Or read magazines or comic books or something.

Surrounding your kid with books. Access to books gives a kid ownership and once they feel entitled to books they’re more likely to casually pick them up – now and throughout their life.

Reading extensions. I’m referring to other media that are associated with certain books – movies, a TV series, cartoons, merchandise – that may interest the child in a book. Who cares what hooks the child into reading? As long as he eventually reads the book, it’s all useful.

Letting your kid choose what he reads. Many schools now go by the maxim that “any reading is good reading” and, barring violence or inappropriate content, I agree. If you don’t like his choices, then find something similar that you do approve of. For instance, if he’s reading Superman comics, find him novels with superheroes.

Treating books like treasures. Books contain: secrets, surprises, gems, rewards, new friends, adventures, useful facts, gross stuff, silliness and lots of other things your kid values. Let your kid see that a book is something precious and exciting and cool.

Turning off the TV. Much as I hate being the bad cop, you’ve gotta, gotta limit screen-time. Create space for reading time. Here’s a GKR article about the reading bubble.

Sharing books with friends. The next time your child’s friend is over, casually mention that your kid is reading “…..” book, and ask what they’re reading. Before you know it, the two will be having a conversation about books. And that will reinforce what you’re trying to do in a way that only peers can.

Letting girls be girls and boys be boys. Your boy may want to walk around while he reads. Boys need to move, especially when they’re thinking. Your daughter may want to read stuff about dogs and love and celebrities. Girls often gravitate towards books with detailed relationships. (Advice: get your boy an exercise ball to sit on instead of a chair; get your girl a book with an empowered heroine who has sophisticated relationships.)

Never giving up. Don’t stop trying to get your kid to read. It’s so important. So, so important. If one thing doesn’t work, try something else. One day it will click and your kid will be a reader. And spend the rest of his or her life thanking you.

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