We live in a world that is changing constantly. It seems I am just getting the hang of the latest technology when something newer and shinier comes along. Even my toddler has technology skills that astound me. I have trouble imagining the digital world he will live in as an adult, but I’m sure it will be incredible.
My concern, though, is this: how do we, as parents and teachers, cultivate a deep love for reading when so many light-blinking-touch-screen-noise-making distractions call to our children more loudly than books with simple text and pictures?
Developing a Love for Books
There are some simple things you can do to encourage your children to pick up a book instead of the latest gadget.
1. Create a reading routine.
Even if only for 15 or 20 minutes, make time during your day to sit with your child and read. Bedtimes and before naps are our family’s typical routine, and my son knows instinctively to go find a few books during these times.
2. Make books accessible and appealing.
A few weeks ago I took a good look at the way I was storing my son’s book collection. Most were piled in baskets, on the coffee table, or in stacks on the shelf in his room. He would have to do a lot of digging to find the book he wanted.
I ordered the shelf pictured at the top of this post, and we are all loving the results. Since I thinned out his available books, and they are easily within his reach, he is spending more time with his books.
If you have older children with an extensive book collection, I suggest sorting the books by author or subject and putting them in labeled containers. They will be more appealing and easier to find.
Photo by Jennifer
3. Let your child see you reading.
This may seem obvious, but children want to do what they see adults doing. If you read on a regular basis, your children will want to pick up the habit, too.
Along the same lines, let them hear you talk about the books you’re reading with your spouse or friends. Send a clear message that reading is important and enjoyable.
Developing a Love of Books through Technology
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying: If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.
Because technology and electronics are a such huge draw for kids, why not use it to further their love of reading? There are many valuable digital resources available to our children right now.
Some of my favorite websites that encourage reading:
- Starfall – this site is really wonderful for beginning and young readers to develop their skills
- Speakaboos – audio books are available for children to listen to and read along with, and there is a neat “record a story” feature
- StorylineOnline – a great selection of books read aloud by celebrities
2. Games, Gadgets, and Apps
Photo by Emily Carter
There are tons of products out there that claim to be educational, but here are a few that we’ve tried and loved:
- Tag Junior– all of the LeapFrog products get excellent reviews, but I have first hand experience with this product. My son received this for Christmas and wants to use it all the time.
- Smartphones, e-readers, and iPads- these items can be really pricey, but if you already own them, use them to your advantage
- Apps for apple products- Our hands-down favorites are the Duck, Duck, Moose apps. I even love playing them!
No matter how you encourage your children to read, the old fashioned way or with the latest technology, the important thing is that they are learning to love reading!
How do you inspire your kids to read? And do you use technology to foster that?