Parents frequently ask me reading-related questions. Some want to know how to encourage reading in their child, while others are wrestling with what to allow their child to read, especially if that child reads above grade level.
Here are some ways to inspire reading in our kids.
Give them books. One of the best ways to encourage kids to read is to supply them with books—lots and lots of books! Studies have shown that the more books one has in the home, the more kids will be apt to become readers. Building your child’s personal library is a great way to surround him with books. Yard sales, tag sales, thrift stores, library used book sales and websites like PaperBackSwap are inexpensive ways to do this.
Visit the library. Frequent trips to the library can also create a desire for books. Many libraries offer reading programs for children of all ages that can stimulate a love of books.
Read to them. Reading to your kids—of all ages—has been proven to stimulate reading in them. Read books they suggest and ones you remember from your own childhood.
Read yourself. When kids see parents reading, it sends a strong message that reading is something you do all your life. So put down that smartphone and pick up a book (yes, ebooks count).
Appropriate Reading Selections
My two girls (10 and 12) both read above grade level, so this is a topic that my husband and I have discussed much in our home. The truth of the matter is that all children want to read about kids who are just a little bit older than they are–that’s part of the growing up process. Books can provide a safe environment for kids to experience things that will soon be happening—or could happen—to them. But on the other hand, sometimes, we as parents are so happy to have our children interested in reading, that we neglect to have a care with what they are reading. The content of books is just as important as the reading itself—probably even more so. Many times, we fear that if we restrict access to certain books (for now or forever), our kids will ditch the reading entirely.Here are some suggestions for how to figure out if a book is good for your children.
Seek outside assistance. There are numerous websites that rate children’s and YA (young adult), such as https://www.commonsensemedia.org/book-reviews and http://www.focusonthefamily.com/parenting/protecting-your-family/book-reviews-for-parents/book-reviews-for-parents). Talking with other parents who share your values about book titles
Read the book first yourself. Whether it’s the flip-and-pause method or reading the entire book, looking at a book can help you decide whether it’s appropriate material or not.
Ask a librarian. Our local resource librarians are gems in helping us figure out if a book is on the right age level for our kids, as well as pointing out similar books if they like a certain author, etc. School librarians can be helpful as well.
Start a book club with your child. If there’s a book that your child wants to read but you’re unsure about the subject matter, read the book together and talk about it. This might help alleviate your concerns about certain book content and give you a platform to hear what your child thinks about the topics in the book. When I recently answered a question about a 10-year-old girl reading books “too old” for her in an online forum, another reader chimed in with the following response: “This is really a hot topic because my son is such a speedy reader and devours books he brings home from the library. My husband and I have been discussing this for some time now, as our 8-year-old son is reading above grade level and while he is able to read “older” books, I don’t always think the content is appropriate. My son and I both recently read Wonder, which he read it first and told me that I would find some “violence” in there. I didn’t think there was much, but it gave me an opportunity to bring up some points with him and we discussed some of the book (he recognized what the other kids were doing was wrong and so forth).”