I’ve recently spoken with many parents with children in high school. Not a surprise to me, one of the most common challenges in their children’s education outside of the classroom was getting them to sit down and read. Sitting down to read. Sounds a bit weird, huh? We’re now so accustomed to be “on the move” with our news apps, ebooks, and exported PDFs on our phones and devices for expedited information that a sedentary-style of reading seems quite quaint and unusual.
Amidst the frenetic lifestyle of a tech-driven world, I believe that setting aside a time to relax and simply read is quite cathartic. Although an advocate of audiobooks, I give more power to the actual decoding of words and phonetic exercises that a real book (or newspaper, magazine, etc.) provides. The brain is a muscle and it needs to be exercised!
Getting Kids to Sit Down and Read
All that is good and fun, but how can parents actually get their kids to sit down and read in order to reap all the benefits (academically, emotionally, and spiritually) of a good sit-down-and-read session? I think the problem lies in the question that parents ask us. “How can I get them to sit down and read?” It’s not your job to bend their knees, plant their butt on a chair, and crack open a book. Rather, it’s your duty to cultivate interests for your kids: interests that spark a desire for them to learn more about those interests.
We were all kids once and so this all makes sense. Need an example? I was a hyperactive child. My schedule for each summer break throughout middle school was blocked out for three things: eat, sleep, and play basketball. And playing basketball always took the most time. More than sleep. I literally did not do anything else. Onlooking people might have believed I was training from an early age to make it to the NBA. And rightfully so. I was addicted. My parents saw an opportunity in this, buying me several books on basketball and biographies of my favorite players. I wanted to live the life of a ball player and so I wanted to read what that life was about: how they trained, where they trained, what they ate, studied, etc. They cultivated my interest in basketball and unaware of it at that time, I began reading more. I didn’t see it as a chore or an educational exercise, but rather an extension of my love for basketball.
Let’s state the obvious. Technological devices are much more prevalent now than back then, to say the least. I was not as distracted as kids are nowadays. But, parents ought not to use this as a crutch but rather a spark to take even more of a charge to cultivate their children’s interests. The challenge is greater. But, I can bet, the rewards will be even more satisfying.
This is only a sliver of the larger challenge in sparking a desire in kids to read. Here are 10 ways to cultivate a love of reading in students as well as your children.
Please share with us in the comments section below, your successes or failures in getting your children or students to read more!