Snuggle up and read!
Winter is a great time of year to get kids hooked on reading at home. When we’re stuck indoors on cold Minnesota days, get cozy and read!
But, when your child is not excited about reading, fostering these habits can be a struggle. Consider these simple strategies to get your child on track:
Visit your local library frequently. We try to visit our library at least once a week — if not more — to stock up on picture books, chapter books, magazines and inspirational non-fiction (such as cookbooks or project books). Our family manages our weekly book selections in a “library basket” in our living room.
When we’re not reading or have finished our checked-out media, we keep it in the basket. This helps us with organization and helps us to avoid fines for overdue materials and also acts as a go-to spot for inspiration and new reading material.
Reading in our home is associated with comfort, which makes it appealing and an experience to look forward to for our kids.
When I’m reading to my three young boys before bedtime, we’re snuggled closely (one boy on either side of me and one on my lap) on our couch.
My older, independent readers enjoy reading chapter books on the couch near the warmth of our fireplace in the winter months. In the summertime, it’s not surprising to find my older daughter engaged in a good book, sitting comfortably on a branch of a nearby tree or nestled into our hammock.
Be a reading role model.
The Center for Children’s & Young Adult Literature encourages parents to let their kids “catch” them reading.
Their reasoning? Children look to adults as role models for reading in addition to everything else. If they see the adults in their lives valuing and enjoying reading, they’ll want to emulate that behavior and become readers, too.
Read with your child.
Research supports that reading for pleasure with children can improve language development and capacity for paying attention and also social and emotional outcomes.
It’s also a great opportunity to make connection and strengthen your relationship with your child.
Let your child explore.
Encourage your kids to investigate different genres of literature. It’s easy to forget about the wide variety available of children’s literature.
Help your child find different titles within the genres of realistic fiction, historical fiction, fantasy, biographies, poetry and informational texts.
Different book formats (picture books, early readers, chapter books and graphic novels) may be more appealing and/or developmentally appropriate for your growing reader.
Find a series.
This past summer The Boxcar Children series kept all four of my children entertained via audio books during our summer travels.
Our family is also a big into audiobooks.
We subscribe to Audible (subscriptions start at $14.95 a month). Sparkle Stories is also an independent media company that offers subscriptions (starting at $15 a month) and pay-as-you-go options for unique and engaging audio stories for children. Plus, check out your library’s audiobook options!
Think outside the book.
Magazines are fun and engaging for both children and adults to read.
Some of my favorite — high quality, ad-free magazines full of stories, articles and engaging photographs and illustrations for school-age children — include Spider and ASK magazines, published by Cricket Media ($33.95 for a one-year subscription), New Moon Girls ($40.65 per year), Root & Star ($45 per year) Highlights for Children ($39.96 per year) and Ranger Rick ($24.95 per year).
Read. Then watch a movie or play.
This is a fun activity that can be inspirational for reluctant readers because it also offers a tangible reward for completion.
Many excellent books have been made into full-length feature films, including Charlotte’s Web, The BFG, Ramona and Beezus and Diary of a Wimpy Kid. See tinyurl.com/bookstomovies.
Megan Devine is an elementary school teacher who lives with her husband and four children in Northeastern Minnesota. She blogs at kidsandeggs.com.