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How to Encourage Kids to Love Reading

With the rise of television, video games, and now the internet and digital devices, many are worried that the old habit of sitting down and reading a good book is on its way out with the coming generation. But while the act of reading is certainly undergoing change, reading is still a fundamental component of education, and it is as fun as it ever was. For 21st-century parents, fostering the reading habit comes with some unique challenges, but there are a few things you can do to ensure that your kids grow up loving to read books.

Start early
Many childcare experts recommend reading to children every day as early as when he or she is in the womb. While reading to a child in uterus or a newborn is certainly a valuable bonding experience, there is no real evidence that the child actively participates in the process until around the second half of her first year. At this time, she starts to listen, and even begins to understand some of the words. Now it becomes crucial to read to your child at least 20 minutes a day.

Meanwhile, it is also a good idea to have a full collection of age-appropriate children’s books for your child to read as part of his own activities. Reading to kids is fun for everyone involved, but they need to get into the habit of picking up books on their own. Make sure your child has plenty of appealing books that are easily accessible (i.e., stored in low places reachable to a child).

Changing media
Many people who grew up prior to this century have a strong emotional attachment to old-fashioned, paper-based books-and of course, many of us still have large book collections that we will not be getting rid of any time soon. So it can be difficult to accept all the changes to the mediums through which we read books. To older people, reading electronic books through tablet devices may seem like it is just not the same as reading an old-fashioned book with real pages that you can turn.

But ultimately, the trajectory of history is not in favor of traditional books, and it is simply inevitable that most people will be reading books electronically in the future. So part of encouraging kids to read is to do so according to the times. Today’s kids love electronic devices, and to them it does not seem odd to read a book on a device screen. Granted, old-fashioned books still have a role-they work well as textbooks, and of course, they do not run out of power-but an all-out rejection of new forms of media does not serve children who will live their full lives in the age of digital media.

Reading as a way of life
One of the best ways to teach children to read as a hobby is for the parents to demonstrate this practice themselves. Have lots of books and other reading materials around, and use them. You cannot convince your kids that reading is fun if you do not demonstrate that you enjoy it yourself. If reading is simply what members of your family do, then your child will not think twice about doing it himself. To get into the habit, you can even have special family reading times in the evenings or on weekends.

Create a reading atmosphere
Whether you are you are reading to your child or encouraging her to read on her own, it is important to create an atmosphere that is perfect for quiet activity and learning. Give your child a quiet area in which to focus. During reading time, the area should be free of distractions such as TV, computers, and toys. A good time for reading is soon before bed when it is time for the child to calm down and begin easing into sleep. Make it a family activity.

By Jamell Andrews

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