Written by Cynthia Port.
Academic year 2016-2017 is officially ON! Bring on the new friends! Sign up for afterschool clubs! Meet some inspiring teachers! Start documenting every single page you read and every single minute you spend reading! Wait . . . whut?
Sadly, often yes.
And I get why, I really do—not all kids are avid readers, and teachers need to insure that a minimum is happening for everybody. For lots of kids, though, setting a “minimum” amount can make it feel like a maximum, as in, “Reading any more than the 20 pages my teacher assigned for tonight just makes me a sucker.”
Even worse, assigned reading can shift the whole experience of reading from the “joy” column in a young person’s life to the “chore” column. We definitely don’t want that.
Luckily, there are lots of way to keep reading in the joy column all year, and all life, long. Here are a handful of ideas:
1. Make an after school or weekend library visit a regular thing, tempting your child or teen with more fun choices than she or he can handle. You might take turns picking out books to read aloud to each other, or invent a library game. A fun one that helps kids broaden their reading interests is “Reading Roulette,” where you walk down an aisle of books with your eyes closed, pull out 3-5 books sight unseen and select at least one of them to read.
2. Create a family reading time. This can be a family ‘read aloud’ or a family ‘read together,’ where everybody gets cozy on the couch with their own book in their hands. Either option can be 15 minutes a night, or a longer, once a week gathering—whatever works with your family’s schedule.
3. Read books for fun yourself, and do it at a time when your child or teen sees you reading. It’s tempting to read only after the kids are tucked in, or only when they’re at school or sports, but as with most everything else in a child’s life, if they see YOU enjoying reading, they will forever associate reading with something fun and pleasurable.
4. Movies that have been made from books can also be a great incentive. Right now my daughter wants to watch the Lord of the Rings movies. We’ll make each one a special movie night just as soon as we finish each book.
5. You know I’ve gotta say it—check out the great books for children and teens at YAAR! We’ve got so many amazing titles, and there’s always some on sale. Plus, every YAAR author LOVES to hear from readers. Nothing sets reading more firmly in the joy column than the chance to make friends with the author of a book that inspires, delights, makes you weep, or gives you the shivers.
What ideas do YOU have for keeping reading in the joy column?