Reading is exercise for your brain. Just like your body needs exercise to become strong, your brain needs a workout too. Too many video games, TV watching, texting, etc. can be the equivalent of mental junk food. Think of reading as a healthy eating for your mind and soul.
This is a big problem for kids today. Kids cannot focus on anything for a short period of time and no wonder. Kids are bombarded with images and sounds all day long. From loud, violent cartoons; to bright fast moving video games and speedy lyrics from their favorite hip-hop songs, things are moving at the speed of light, so it’s hard to focus on life. Reading slows things down. They can sit quietly and focus on the story they’re reading. Reading balances out the fast pace virtual lives around them.
Because texting has become an acceptable form of communication kids are learning fewer words. When you are chatting about your favorite basketball star or pop-singer to your BBF you don’t need to show off your vocabulary skills. Just saying he/she is “the bomb” works. But when kids are talking to an adult, especially an adult of authority, like a teacher, slang doesn’t work. Reading exposes kids to new words that they can use in everyday conversations. So the next time your childs teacher asked your child what they did for the weekend, your child can say; “I attended the Beyoncé concert and her performance was extraordinary.” Insteasd of saying “I saw Bey-Bey and she killed it.”
This may be the most important component reading plays in the life of a child. Whether your child wants to be a ballerina, an astronaut or the President of the United States, it all begins in their imagination. Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is the preview of life’s coming attactions”. Think of how powerful that it. Combine that with Walt Disney’s quote “If you can dream it, you can do it.” Imagination is the foundation of all success for all of us and nothing stimulates our imagination like reading.
This is where you sell reading to your child. When they realize reading is the best form of entertainment in the world you will have them hooked as a reader for life. The trick is finding the right book and choosing the right book is easier than you think. Simply take their favorite subject or personality (basketball, LeBron James, singing, Beyoncé, comedy, Kevin Hart, acting, Kerry Washington, etc.) and get their biography or a magazine featuring them. Even if they are reading tabloid entertainment magazines, so what, they’re still reading. You can also trick them into reading by reading a book before you go see the movie of the book. Did you know some of your kids favorite movies (from The Wizard of Oz to, Shrek and Cloudy with a chance of meatballs) were first books. So before you go see the next Pixar movie, read the book together first. Then you can compare the differences between the two. Of course the book is usually better.
And when I say early I mean in the womb. It’s as much for you as your unborn baby. It allows you to practice and get into the habit of reading to your child. After they’re born read everyday. It’s a great bonding ritual.
Pick a set time:
Having a set time to read will give your child something to look forward to and also establish a structured time to read. Right after dinner, just before or after bath time or bed-time. Whatever works for you, but try to keep it consistent if your can. Hopefully it will carry over to when they are independent readers and they will develop their own set time to read.
Pick their favorite topics:
You may love mysteries, or dramas but your child may love cars or ballerinas. No matter what their likes are choose books that are going to hold their interest, not yours. Once they are hooked on reading you can introduce them to different genres.
Once your child starts reading independently, don’t stop reading with them. Either sit with them while they read or read with them by alternating pages.
-Visit the library regularly. Your local library is the most valuable and underused resource. Besides having thousands of books available, many libraries also have great programs geared towards kids. From author visits to Lego Day many libraries are finding unique ways to draw a younger audience.
-SWITCH ON, SWITCH OFF
Now that you’ve set a set and structured time to read, turn off the tv and phone and turn on sufficient lighting to read. Pick a specific place in the house and make that your special reading place. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the sofa, dinner table or your child’s bed, but stay consistent so your child can look forward to spending their special time reading in a special place.