Thursday, January 15, 2015

How I Keep My Kids Reading

In today's day and age, there are so many more distractions for our kids, including video and computer games. When my children were really small, it was very easy to engage them in reading. We read them board books throughout the day and as part of the bedtime routine and visited the library regularly. Being a writer and avid reader, I know the benefits of reading and have always been determined to make sure books remain an important part of my children's lives.

I think for some parents, it's harder to foster the love of books in our kids as they get older when we are constantly trying to limit their time on Minecraft, Disney Infinity, or WiiU. But with a little persistence and encouragement, it is possible. Here are a few ways I keep my kids reading on a daily basis:

Library visits. From early on, I've tried to teach my kids (now ages 8 and 11) how valuable a resource our public library system is. Fortunately, we have access to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Library, which has three branches all within driving distance. We visit the library at least twice a month and stock up on books, DVDs, and CDs. During the summer we participate in their summer reading program (me included!) and focus on reading 20-25 hours during that time period, earning prizes and fee waivers along the way, which come in very handy.

Paying attention to their interests. We all stuck in reading ruts. Sometimes I get hooked on one author and focus on binge-reading all her books, which isn't always the best the best thing for me. When I notice my kids are bringing home the same books over and over from school or from the library, I take the time to walk down all the aisles in the library and bookstores with them. For example, my 8-year-old son gravitates toward humor books like the Diary of a Wimpy Kid and My Weird School series. But he also has a fondness for the German Shepherd dog breed, so I encourage him to check out the non-fiction section, specifically animals. My daughter is interested in all things medical, so on our last visit to the library, I showed her where the juvenile health section was and she quickly found an armload of books.

Browsing thrift stores. It never ceases to amaze me when I browse the book section in places like Goodwill and the Habitat for Humanity ReStores. I've found so many copies of vintage books I loved as a child and teenager and have been able to pass on to my kids. It's like a treasure hunt--the kids immediately head for the books and whoop in excitement when they find several copies of their favorite books for as little as 50 cents or $1 per copy.

I believe keeping my kids engaged in books has helped them become terrific spellers and confident writers and storytellers. I hope they never lose their love of reading, and I will always do my best to keep conversing with them about the books they love, and the ones they don't.

How do you keep your own kids reading?

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