Encourage a Love of Reading by Reading What They Read

You already know it is important to read to your children when they are young. But, did you know it is also important to read with them when they get older?

If you want to encourage a love of reading in your children, get involved. Unless you are blessed with a child who has a natural affinity for the written word, you have to be proactive. If your son or daughter is just reading what is assigned in school, they may end up with the lifelong notion reading is work. Reading for pleasure encourages creativity, expands the imagination, develops communication skills, and is, simply, great exercise for brains of all shapes and sizes.

One of the best ways I have found to encourage my children’s reading and develop their understanding now that they are older and reading chapter books, is to read what they are reading. It isn’t always easy to find the time or the inclination to read at their level, but I am never sorry I did.

If they dislike their book, I can make real life associations which make it more interesting and meaningful for them, explain plots or characters they find confusing (kids will not enjoy books they don’t understand) or just sympathize with them. Misery loves company. Affirming their dislike for a book can help them understand every book isn’t for every person. Learning how to choose the right book is the MOST important step toward becoming a lifelong reader. By knowing what books they don’t like and why makes it easier for you to steer them in the right direction.

If they love their book, every day becomes a little mini-bookclub. We discuss both straightforward plot and more nuanced themes. Whoever is farther ahead in the book teases the other dropping hints about what is going to happen, and we often have a laugh at a private reference no one else in the family understands. Especially in a big family, a private joke goes a long way toward making a child feel more special.

Recently, my 10 year old was madly in love with the first book of a series called, The Genius Files by Dan Gutman. She spoke so highly of it, I actually couldn’t wait to pick it up. What a great lesson, for me, in the importance of understanding people are drawn to different types of literature for different reasons. I hated it and couldn’t wait to get through it. But, I bit my tongue and pretended to love it, so as not to destroy our reading relationship or undermine her choices. I figured it was good practice for when one of my sons brings home their first girlfriend — that bimbo!

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Author: Karen Latimer

Karen is a Family Doctor, mom of five and founder of Tips From Town.


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