Raise a Reader, Raise a Leader

Raise a Reader, Raise a Leader

How to Encourage Your Children to Read More

By Donna Vail

 

“A truly good book teaches me better than to read it.  I must soon lay it down, and commence living on its hint…. What I began by reading, I must finish by acting.”  ~Henry David Thoreau

Reading is the best way to learn and acquire knowledge. When you look at leaders from history as well as present day they all have one thing in common, reading books. Leaders are readers because they know through books they can build their knowledge and gain from the experience of the story. Most leaders have a large library and are constantly reading several books at a time. When raising your children to be successful, a big part of their living should include reading books. Here are some tips to get them reading or if they are already reading, encourage them to read more and love learning.

Be a reader. Your children need to see you reading books. Demonstrate how when you want to learn something you turn to books. Read for enjoyment and don’t forget the rewards of a great cookbook. If you want your children to love books and reading then you must do this yourself first.

Build a Library of your own. Give your children books they can call their own. Help them build their personal libraries in their rooms. When they find an author they like, help them collect the series. Be sure and support them in collecting books that are hardback, even collector editions. Let them take pride in their own selected collection.

Let them read any which way. Children like to read while they are walking, laying down, with their head hanging over the edge of a bed or even feet sticking up in the air. Our children built a fort outside and quickly turned it into a book club where they would all gather and quietly read their books while sitting on logs and enjoying the fresh air.

Turn off the electronics. Letting go of the television and electronic games creates lots of time for reading. If you don’t want to toss the whole television out the window then create specific viewing times. We have a television in our home but we keep it put up in a cabinet all week and when we have time on weekends we enjoy a family movie together. This creates more time for reading. Since the children are used to having so much reading time, they end up creating time on the weekends to read too.

Go to your local library regularly. The key here is regularly. Years ago we used to go to the library every two or three weeks when our books were due. That works well but if you really want to step up the reading, make it a weekly event. Now we go to the library every week. Two of my children volunteer for an hour and a half and once they are done then I take the rest of the kids in to pick them up. We spend about thirty minutes to an hour looking at books, talking about books and enjoying the library experience. This gives the children space to familiarize themselves with where the books are located, how they are shelved and time to explore.

Read aloud to your children regularly. Reading aloud anytime during the day or evening really works magic at bringing the family together. Everyone loves a good story and we never tire of being read to. Sharing a good book creates memories that last a lifetime. We will never forget the many hours we sat and listened as Dad read to us Where the Red Fern Grows and how we all cried. Many nights left us hanging on the edge of our seats waiting for the next days reading session so we could find out what happened next.

Choose books of high quality. Encourage your children to read biographies and historical fiction including literary classics. Girls can be encouraged to read books about girls and women who made significant contributions to the world. Boys can be encouraged to read books about boys and men who were explorers, historians, and statesmen. As they read literary classics they will be learning character traits and gain knowledge from the experience of those they read.

Have patience and never, never, never give up. If you have a child who doesn’t like to read then patience is your best friend. Let go of the need to “make” him a reader. Create an environment that supports reading, share in the excitement of your enjoyment with books and he’ll come around. It will happen easier and faster if you allow it rather than force it. Observe what your child’s highest values are and find books on the topic. You are not alone, we’ve all experienced a child or two who wasn’t particularly interested in books who now are great book collectors and voracious readers.

The gift of reading is one of the greatest gifts you can give your children, one that will keep giving throughout their entire life. Be the reader you wish your child to be and keep the books flowing.

“I find television to be very educating.  Every time somebody turns on the set, I go in the other room and read a book.”  ~Groucho Marx

© copyright 2011 Donna Vail International All rights reserved.

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