How can a parent help their sons find reading more enjoyable? Read these successful tips.
In a world full of so many visually entertaining things to do, I hear a lot of parents complaining about their children not reading enough. No matter how hard they try, some folks have a tough time of it while on the other hand, there are boys practically eating books for dinner.
One of the things that has always made me smile is when people comment on my son walking around with a book in his hand. At 12 years old, I cannot tell you the number of books he’s read in his lifetime because I’ve literally lost count. His older brother, who is 11 years his senior, read a lot as well when he was young and spends his days reading all of the current news online throughout the day. Although my oldest does not read the 1000+ page books his younger brother does, between the two of them they’re like a combined encyclopedia. Sadly, there are many stereotypes about people who are avid readers and seeing my boys, they don’t fit the “look” some tag readers with. In fact, they dispel myths that we all know weren’t true anyway about who reads and who doesn’t.
The ability to carry around multiple books has become easier in the world of e-readers. However, in my youngest son’s eyes, nothing beats the feeling of a real book in his hand. His reading has even gotten him in trouble in school. I’ll never forget the day I got a call that he was failing math. That statement was followed up with the reason being that he wouldn’t put his book down and had been hiding it under the math book in class so his math skills were failing. That was one of the most confusing moments ever when I had to decide whether or not to take books away so he could study for a class in school. The books had become a nightmare. At 3:00 a.m. I’d wake startled only to find him under the covers with a flashlight in his room on a school night reading one of the hundreds of books he’s read. He takes books to the grocery store, birthday parties and even doctor’s visits.
So how does one become successful at getting their sons to read more? There are two questions we should ask ourselves:
• Why do WE want them to read more?
• What kind of books do WE think THEY should read?
It pays to be as honest with yourself about the questions above as you can. Removing “self” from the equation and focusing on our kids is the biggest part of the solution.
Once you’ve evaluated your responses to the “self” charged questions, here are some of my tips on helping your son’s get more interested in reading:
• If your child is small, make sure to read with him as much as possible to instill a hunger for reading
• Start observing your son’s day to day behaviors and note what makes him smile, laugh, excited or upset
• Pay attention to your son’s normal attention span to help gauge the length of books he might be interested in
• Buy books about things you observed that make him happy, excited or intrigued in his daily life
• Have his eyesight checked regularly to rule out any vision problems that could prevent him from wanting to read
• Read with him and take turns reading sentences to see how well he is both reading and comprehending
• Set apart reading time where you both can sit and read together – coffee shops are great for this
• Never make reading a punishment
• When watching a television show, remember to pick up a book at the store later that pertains to what you both enjoyed on television
• Let him pick (within reason) the books he wants to read
• Make a family game of it and act out the characters in the books he’s reading depending on his age
• Ask him “if there was only one book in the entire world you could read what it would be and what would it be about?”
• Make reading in front of your children a habit
• Learn his reading style: paperback/hardback books, e-readers, e-books on PC, magazines, audio books, short stories, etc.
Not everyone’s sons will read the 1000 page plus books that my son does. You won’t, however, know if your own son WILL read those books until you first get him interested in reading. At that point they may surprise themselves as much as they may surprise you!
Photo: Michael Bentley/Flickr