For readers, writers and book-lovers, some people’s lack of interest in literature can be perplexing. Bookworms find it hard to understand why some wouldn’t want to escape into a fantasy land where anything is possible or delve into some of the most interesting people in history and learn from their triumphs or mistakes. Language is a gateway into our own creativity, as well as human history, our present and our future. For parents who love to read, it can be quite disconcerting to realise that one’s child does not share their interest or have a proficiency in reading and writing.
If your child is not showing the same level of interest in reading and writing, this article will provide ten great methods to steer them into the wonderful world of literature so they can develop into a book-lover and a strong, skilful writer.
1. Set aside time to read aloud or write
Children want to spend time with their parents, and storytime is one of the best ways to do this. You can begin as soon as they are born. Study after study has shown that children respond to the sound of their mother’s voice and that being exposed to more words is a huge factor in young children’s vocabulary and cognitive development. Therefore, you should make reading aloud and correcting mistakes a habit in your family home. This is also a great way to monitor your child’s literacy skills to ensure that they are developing at a steady pace. If you do find any issues, you can seek help from your child’s teacher or from an online English tutoring platform and get on top of any learning disorders early.
2. Surround them with stories that interest them
The last thing you want to do in your quest to turn your child into a super reader is to provide them with elevated literature or themed books that don’t interest them. It is essential that you cater the books to your child. If they love space, buy them space-themed books, or if they love superheroes, lean into that. The best way to get children excited about reading is to give them stories that they will want to read. If you’re looking for some good recommendations, check out my five year old’s favourite books. However, always remember: the best stories for your kid are going to be specific to their interests and needs. Go to the bookstore, walk around with them and see what they gravitate towards. Whatever it is, get that!
3. Read to Your Child
Sometimes it can be nice to read to your child, to let them relax and enjoy the wonderful world that words can paint. By setting aside time to read stories to your kid, you are placing importance on reading, developing vocabulary, attention and listening skills, and bonding time, which is just as important. It also has the added advantage of creating a focus around reading, writing and literature in general, which will undoubtedly inspire your child to pursue it on their own. We understand that life gets in the way, but even the busiest people can find ways to support your child’s learning and manage your work.
4. Create a designated reading space
Another advantage of television over reading is that it usually has its own designated room to consume it. Often you will find yourself sitting in the television room and switching it on automatically or absent-mindedly. This same process can be applied to a designated reading nook where anyone in your family can go and enjoy a comfortable space to read.
Do not underestimate the power of a nice spot in the home to tuck up and enjoy escaping into a wonderful world of fantasy. The fun part is that when creating a reading space for a kid, it can be as creative a space as you can imagine. If you’re lost for ideas, The Spruce provides some great recommendations for creative reading spaces that you can check out.
5. Mix up the medium
What makes television so addictive is that it is so easy to consume. So, fight fire with fire! Not all your child’s books have to be novels or nonfiction literature. Mix it up by buying them art books or comic books, cartoons from the newspaper, or let them read the sports sections, if they are into sports. If they have specialised interests, find a magazine that caters to those interests. There are so many ways to develop a love for words in everyday life. Another option is playing word-related games like scrabble or giving them find-a-words to solve. There are plenty of word games that are great to play with your child!
6. Slip reading into everyday life
Not all kids gravitate towards books, but that doesn’t mean you can’t show them how valuable reading can be. We read every single day for many different reasons. An excellent way to have your child learn this lesson while also practising their reading skills is to have them help you cook in the kitchen and have them read the recipe for you. Teaching children how to read recipes is a fantastic trick because you also teach them valuable life skills that will make them well-rounded adolescents and adults. Or, you can ask for their help with reading a manual when putting together a piece of furniture or hooking up the television.
Of course, some of the words may be a little tricky, but they will feel a sense of accomplishment by helping you with the instructions. Furthermore, these priceless moments teach your child the value of reading and writing on a practical level.
7. Minimise TV time
While entertaining, the tv doesn’t have that same ability to challenge your child’s ability as reading does. According to kidshealth.org, television, computer and game use can negatively affect your child’s developing personality, physical/mental health and cognitive abilities.
When children become dependent on television to entertain them, they start getting bored with books. This is because watching tv is passive and easy, while reading is active and requires sustained effort and attention. By minimising television as an option, you require your child to entertain themselves through reading or writing, which can form good habits for the future!
8. Have books everywhere
If you want your child to read, their room and your whole house should be teeming with books to choose from. Research has consistently found that it is important to bombard children with engaging stimuli from a young age. These stimuli can include words, songs and sensory experiences, which stimulate your child’s cognitive growth and development, ultimately fostering their excitement for learning. Books are relatively inexpensive, and there are plenty of ways to build up your library.
If money is tight, you can head to massive sales in renowned bookstores, head to op shops for heavily discounted classics, or even pick and choose from pre-loved reads at garage sales, Facebook marketplace and other online market-style websites such as thriftbooks.com.
9. BE a reader
It is common for readers to create other readers, but if you and your partner are rapacious readers and your child is not showing interest, try to include family reading time, where you are actively involved in their story. If you aren’t a reader, this could be a big reason why your child isn’t as enthusiastic about reading and writing as you might like. Children model their parents and authority figures. If you want your child to be a reader and writer, the most efficient way to influence them is to be a reader and writer yourself. If you would like to read and write more but you don’t know where to start, check our Barnes and Nobles list of 25 Must-Read Books and start from there!
10. Make books important
You do this by following some of the steps we have already laid out, but there are other ways to make reading and writing a fundamental part of your kid’s life. It is also essential that you don’t make reading a chore!
One way of doing this is joining and attending the library. Get your child a library card, head down there and let them run wild looking for books that draw their attention. Often the library and bookstores will have guest readers or book-related events, so make sure you stay up-to-date and get involved in things that might interest your child. It is all about cultivating a book culture in your family’s life.
Make books important to your family, and books will become important to your child!
A stimulating and engaging environment is the best thing you can do for your children, and positioning yourself as a motivator and educator to your child will go a long way in turning them into tenacious and enthusiastic readers and writers.