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No matter what we try, our kids gravitate toward the TV and video games. How can we make reading more fun that that?


Roberta Carswell Replied: Since your kids naturally gravitate toward TV and videos games, I think it is important that your encouragement of reading doesn't sound like punishment or something they must do like eating vegetables. Reading is more active than media experiences contrary to what people may believe so it is more of an effort to read, comprehend and develop your own sense of the ‘worlds' being portrayed in books. I think the key is to make a personal connection between the book and your child. Try not to force certain books just because they are classics or on the reading list. Find a characters, themes, and locations that connect with your particular child and their temperament and set of experiences. If they are more interested in nonfiction, try a biography or nonfiction book that reads as story (i.e. Jim Murphy's "Blizzard" about the massive storm in NYC from 1888). There are also some extraordinary books that are in picture book format but contain themes more text or advanced subject matter. Goods examples are books by Eve Bunting (Gleam & Glow) and Patricia Polacco (Pink & Say). Another idea is to make reading a shared experience. There are phenomenal books on CD that you can listen to while in the car that work with children of different ages. You can also do ‘parallel reading' if you have upper elementary or middle school children. They may not want to read aloud together but you can read a few chapters independently and then talk about them sporadically during the week. We have several parent-child book clubs at the library and the families often tell us that the discussion goes on long before and after the monthly meetings. It is worth your effort. Discussion of themes in books can open up conversations about issues in you and your child's life that may not come up naturally. And also, allow them some fun, silly reading too! We all have lighthearted books that are sometimes exactly what we need in the midst of the challenging week.
Posted On 2009-09-01 16:28:11
Derick Wilder Replied: First of all, know that you are not alone! In a society that is becoming more and more sedentary, this is a fairly common issue. Here are a couple of points that I think might help a bit. 1. It makes sense that children gravitate, first and foremost, to things they find interesting and fun. So I would suggest your kids each write down some topics that truly strike their fancy. Then make it a challenge to head down to the local library or bookstore and find a book (or three) on those subjects. Even if it's not necessarily intellectually stimulating, get them started down the path of loving to read. Perhaps the types of video games they like could also suggest potential books. Remember that the books don't have to be classics, especially in the beginning, but simply a first step to the fascinating world of literature. 2. Also consider other avenues that offer options other than TV or video games. Get the children outdoors and involved in activities like hiking, camping, playing sports, etc. Each provides a healthy combination of fresh air and exercise. Expose them to as many things as possible - arts, music, language, etc. - and see which might ignite an interest. 3. You may also want to put some limits on the TV and video games. While going cold turkey may not be the answer, putting reasonable restrictions on the amount of time spent on these endeavors will help reinforce an objective of providing more choices for your children.
Posted On 2009-08-04 20:08:15
Mary Larson Replied: The most important thing is that your children are seeing you reading for fun. You and your children should regularly go to the library together and choose books for pleasure. Children's librarians can help match your kids to fiction that will interest them. Parents who always have a book with them when they head for the Dr's office,for example, show kids that reading is the great way to kill time, not video devices. And, of course, from birth kids need to be read to aloud. Reading bedtime stories can easily extend to age 9 or 10.
Posted On 2009-08-03 14:15:41
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