If your kids are reading for reading’s sake, that’s a very good sign, and you should encourage it. The positive effects of good literature on developing minds cannot be overestimated. Here are a few ways to encourage your kids to read, whether they’re younger readers or teenagers. I’d like to base this set of examples on a real family: my aunt, uncle, and three cousins out in Victoria, when the kids were still at home. They were the most well-read household I have ever seen.
- Give books as gifts, not just on special occasions, but spontaneously. My cousins never got candy or small toys from the Tooth Fairy or in their Christmas stockings. They got paperback books. This does not have to be expensive for your family. You can get second-hand paperbacks at very low cost. If you find a good book sale, get a whole bunch at once and distribute them over the course of several weeks or months.
- Make use of your local library. When I visited my family in Victoria over the summer, trips to the library were a weekly pilgrimage, as a matter of routine. Every Saturday afternoon, like clockwork, the three kids – wait, four, including me! – would gather up their reading material from the previous week (in a laundry basket for that specific purpose) and pile into the car.
- Create family rituals around reading. I was fortunate enough to be in Victoria for the release of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I learned that since all three of my cousins were deeply into Harry Potter, they had a family policy of purchasing only one copy of each new book and reading it aloud as a family before anyone got a chance to read it privately. That way there was no chance of one sibling spoiling the story for the others. My uncle read us the whole book over about a two-week period, and I have to say, it was way more fun than reading it alone would have been. I envied my cousins for getting to experience the entire series that way. Reading aloud is a wonderful thing to do as a family. If your kids are young and just learning to read, have them read aloud to you, and show them that you are excited about their reading. If they’re older, set aside time for reading together in the evenings, silently, with no TV, computers, or cell phones allowed.
Search Institute has identified 40 building blocks of healthy development, known as Developmental Assets, that help adolescents to grow up healthy, caring, and responsible. Visit us here every Wednesday to read about different ways that you, your family, and your community can take action to help equip our young people develop resilience and achieve success in life.