(Ideas from an interview with Brooke Romney)
1. Be an example of a reader.
When children see their parents reading for pleasure, it sends an important message to them, that this is how we want to spend our time. Reading can also lead to great discussions with our kids. It is helpful to let them get a glimpse of what we are reading through our conversation. This shows that learning is a lifelong process, not just something we have to do while we are in school.
2. Make reading enjoyable.
Brooke says, “We try not to make it a forced thing. When it gets frustrating, we put it away.” When children approach reading with interest and joy, the whole experience will be different. If children are being timed or feeling forced to read, it takes some of the fun out of reading. Try to provide enjoyable reading opportunities for your children.
3. Let kids have ownership of what they are reading.
When parents dictate what children read, it can be hard for children to find the intrinsic motivation to read. Parents and children often have different interests. Let children determine their own books, and even their own level. Children may choose to read a book at a lower or even a higher level. And that’s okay! When children are allowed to decide what they want to read, they will be more engaged and they will maintain a habit of reading.
4. Let them stay up and read.
In the Romney family, kids are allowed to stay up for an extra half hour in their bed- if they are reading. Not only is this a great way for kids to unwind, it provides an incentive for kids to read—they get to stay up later!
5. Use incentives.
Another incentive that parents can use, is to read the book before you see the movie. This gives children a reason to get the book read, and it can also provide a fun and more rich movie experience for the family. Families can talk about what was different in the book and in the movie, what they liked better, and what they would have done differently.
6. Read aloud as a fun family activity.
Reading aloud as a family might not happen every day, but when it does, it provides a great opportunity to learn and bond as a family. Shared books become part of the family conversation. They lead to great discussions. And best of all, reading aloud teaches our kids to become lifelong readers.