It might sound cliché, but screen time does take children away from other activities that they could have enjoyed. Exposing children to technology has benefits, but excessive time in front of the computer or TV eats into time that could have been spent reading.
Parents and teachers worldwide are concerned that today’s children might not develop an interest in reading, thanks to extended screen time. It is an unfortunate situation since reading has proven to deliver multitudes of social and cognitive benefits, from faster language development to sharper critical thinking.
Here are a few ways you can cultivate the love of reading among your kids.
Build a Library
A child won’t be able to appreciate books if books do not surround them. To instill a love of reading, parents must enable reading by surrounding children with books and stories that pique their interest. Bonus points if the titles reflect the lives of children like themselves and their classmates. If kids relate to the characters, they are more likely to pick it up and read.
The library should be diverse and represent all genres so the child can determine what kind of stories they enjoy reading. Most children’s stories revolve around fantasy and day-to-day life. However, publishing houses have been producing kids’ titles for mysteries, science fiction, poetry, historical fiction, biographies, autobiographies, and more.
If children see these books at home and in school, they might give them a chance and develop a love for the genre. By the time they send in an elementary application, they’ve had an impressive book count under their belts.
Leading by example applies to the world of reading. Parents who are bookworms themselves are more likely to raise bookworms, as children often imitate what they see. Children value what the adults at home value.
As such, make reading together a nightly routine. Place big books of bedtime stories in their rooms, so you have a selection to choose from every night. Share your reading experiences, too. Tell your kids about your favorite stories as a child. Moreover, children would have an easier time exploring new genres if they read the first story with their parents.
It also helps if you put a cap on screen time (ideally, parents limit screen time even if there are no reading initiatives at home). By limiting screen time, you let children find something else to do. They can go outside and play with their brothers, sisters, or pets, or they can also tinker with their toys. If you have been reading with your kids, their instinct might even be to pick up a book as soon as you turn off the TV.
Take the Kids to the Library
It’s one thing to have a bookshelf at home; it’s another to have access to a library. So take the children to where the action happens, like a local library, a university library, or a bookstore. It’s more than about checking out or buying titles. It’s about being surrounded by books and the feeling that they have a multitude of choices within their reach.
If you’re attending book events at these places, let your child tag along, or you can sign them up for kid’s events, too. Take it a step further and get the children a library card. It will give them ownership over their books and the ability to check out books any time they wish.
By starting them young, children will develop a lifelong love for reading. The benefits they reap as a child — increased vocabulary, more profound comprehension, sharper cognitive abilities — will stay with them until adulthood.