How do we inspire our children to read?
We model what it looks like to be an avid reader. It’s a simple answer.
If your child never sees you reading or writing, then the act of learning and sharing through the written word becomes synonymous to the drudgeries of the education system. (Sorry, a bit jaded on that one.)
Many children read for homework. Reading and writing is the chore they must complete before they can have time to themselves. Naturally, many begin to resent it or, at the very least, look forward to when it is done.
I’m generalizing, here. Certainly, there are children who only read for school and still love it. But their experience is not the norm.
We, as parents, have a few options to help our children read more.
We can help them with their homework. To clarify, I am not suggesting parents complete their child(ren)’s homework (a startlingly common practice, I discovered, when I taught high school). A parent’s involvement, though, in the homework process, adds meaning to the task. And a parent who takes time out of the evening to focus on a child’s education illustrates the importance of the subject while also building valuable relationships.
We can model reading and learning. I read whenever I have a moment. The three bookshelves in my room are overflowing (not a metaphor; there are about forty books scattered across my desk, bedside table, and floor that do not have a home on the shelves). I talk about the books I’m reading with others–with my daughter.
My daughter, S-, sees this and copies me. She likes to spend time in her room reading her library books over and over again. She’ll then come describe the stories to me, explaining the humor or conflict in each.
She also leaves books all over her floor, a practice I do NOT approve of, since her bookshelves do still have room. But that’s another matter entirely.
Each day, we as parents can make conscious decisions to help our children become better readers.
As a final remark, this post is not about learning differences or test scores or reading speed or anything like that. These are, I feel, measures to sort children into boxes of aptitude that mean very little about a child’s intelligence.
On the contrary, this is about returning the wonder to activities that society insists are good and fun while simultaneously sucking all the fun out of them.
Let’s bring back the fun to reading and science and math and history. We–parents, guardians, what-have-you–we can do that.
At least that’s my tea.
Cheers. Next time, fam.