A worried mother once called me and said, “My son hates reading. How do I get him to read?” She had seen a picture of a workshop I had done with kids and thought as an author of children’s fiction I ought to know the magic way to get children to read. “Do you read?” was my first question. I was not surprised when she told me that both she and her husband hated reading.
Her son topped his IB school in all subjects but the only complaint/comment from the school was that he would not read. So? Well, apparently, we parents want flawless children. We hate reading, will not be caught dead reading a book, but we want our kids to devour books. This young mother had put her son in ‘book reading classes’ –yes they exist—but they had to take him off because every time he went in he would sit there and cry. Disgusted, I sent her off telling her to start reading books herself and I certainly hope the poor chap had some respite. However if book reading is important to you there are indeed things you can do to encourage your child to do so.
1) Really and truly start reading yourself: If you and your husband both enjoy reading, there is a very high chance that your child will want to explore with words. Kids imitate their parents. Parents are their first role models. My husband does not like to read. But I read everywhere: when I eat, when I rest, my washroom is stacked with books… and so both my kids are found poring over books.
My point is that if you and your husband prefer other activities rather than reading or simply hate reading, there is a very small chance that your kids will choose to read. But more importantly, if reading is not important to you, please do not stress kids to get them to start reading. The first thing that is bad for reading, is force.
Start exploring books yourself. Read to your children. Bedtime stories are the best times in the world. Children get to unwind and you get to bond with your child.
2) Surround your child with books: Give your child his own space to stack his books. Make book shopping exciting. Allowing them to pick their books and allowing them their space to store their books will make a great difference. Don’t place rules for their books. It’s theirs to read as they please.