There’s no getting around the reality that everything is becoming more hi-tech. When was the last time you picked up a book, anyway? In these computer-driven times, we worry that our kids will be limited to reading text messages and social media status updates. We want them to be excited about reading classics like Charlotte’s Web and Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, cherishing the worn pages of those books as we did, once upon a time.
It’s on us to figure out how to help kids read, and more importantly, how to encourage kids to read. As Abraham Lincoln famously said, “The things I want to know are in books. My best friend is the man who’ll get me a book I [haven’t] read.” So be that best friend to your kid and find ways to get them reading. Times have changed and we need to become Y2K compatible to get our kids amped for reading in more innovative, current ways. To find some strategies for ourselves (and for you, of course), we searched far and wide to come up with these ten 21st century ways to help kids read and get amped about it.
1. Go Hollywood
Find books that have a movie associated with them. Whether the movie is good or bad matters not. Read the book—together if possible—then watch the movie, definitely together, and discuss similarities and differences.
Visit places with lots of books. From bookstores to libraries to play dates at other families’ houses, take your kids to places where they’ll be surrounded by books and encouraged to open them. A great way to help kids read it by making books available whenever possible.
3. Go Clubbing (Book Clubbing!)
Join a kids book of the month club. These are available both online and through your local library if you’re child’s school doesn’t have one. The books selected are organized by reading level or grade so you’ll be sure to get one that’s appropriate for your kid.
4. Use the Vacay as Fuel
Plan a vacation where your kids need to find info about the destination. You can plan a road trip and put the kids in charge of the sightseeing opportunities in each city; or schedule a few days in one place and have the children research places to go and where to eat. They’ll have to do quite a bit of Internet searching and reading to get it all done.
5. Book Swap
Start a neighborhood book exchange. Books can be expensive…even if we’re just talking about library late fees from last year. If you’ve got kids of similar ages living on your street, see if you have books they might like and visa versa. Then trade away, indefinitely. Sometimes, just the fact that it belonged to someone else or has someone else’s little notes in it, makes reading that much more fun.
Subscribe to kids publications that come addressed to your child. They will look forward to getting mail each month. We received Highlights when we were kids but there are lots of magazines available now that are made just for kids. Research options with your child and let him or her have the final say. Oh, and if you’ve got a child really into something specific, like skateboarding or fishing, don’t limit them to the ‘kid’ magazines if they can handle the more adult reading level of mainstream publications!
7. Go Digital
If you’re really struggling with how to help kids read, consider that giving them an iPad is kind of like speaking to them in a language that they already feel comfy with. Work the comfort to get them amped. IPads aren’t just for games and surfing the net. You can download books on the iPad so your child can get excited to read on their existing technology. Some books even offer special features when you read them electronically.
8. Go Mainstream
Start reading a popular series. Harry Potter, anyone? This is an easy and reliable way to get kids excited about reading.
9. Practice What You Preach
Start a book collection and include your own reading material. Experts say you should, “Be a reader yourself. Kids look to adults as role models for reading in addition to everything else.”
10. Up the Ante
A little healthy competition never hurts anyone. Join the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge or start your own summer reading competition with your kids. You can choose to measure progress in minutes, pages or books completed, whatever is age appropriate for your children. Use a sticker chart to track progress and feel free to join in yourself. You might just finish off that beach read you started last year!