This month, the National Education Association celebrates the 12th annual Read Across America, in conjunction with Dr. Seuss’s birthday. The program focuses on motivating children to read, by mobilizing schools, libraries, community centers, and others to sponsor events that bring together kids and books.
Search Institute has identified “Reading for Pleasure” as one of the 40 Developmental Assets, which means research shows it is a characteristic of healthy, caring, resilient kids. The more assets youth have, the more likely they’ll resist risky behaviors in the future.
There’s a reason the NEA makes such a big deal about reading. According to the NEA site:
Motivating children to read is an important factor in student achievement and creating lifelong successful readers. Research has shown that children who are motivated and spend more time reading do better in school.
Good readers tend to do well in other aspects of school, so any efforts to encourage a love for reading can pay big dividends down the road. Here are some creative ways to do it.
Start a book club – For the past two years, my 12-year-old daughter and her friends have organized a neighborhood book club called BookWorm Wednesday, and because of her work, NEA and Youth Service America named her a Youth Leader for Literacy. During the next two months, she’ll write a series to help other kids to start their own book clubs. Many of the kids come because of the craft, games – or cupcakes — more than the books. But what’s important is that they do come.
Blog about literacy — Starting March 9, in the blog event, Share a Story – Shape a Future, an ensemble effort of people passionate about literacy will share practical, useable, everyday ideas to promote reading. They’ll also offer book giveaways and free downloads. Book Chook author and Share a Story – Shape a Future organizer Susan Stephenson says there will be plenty of opportunities to join in and share your own ideas as well. Read more about Share a Story – Shape a Future.
Visit the library regularly – Your kids will love it even more if you combine the visit with something else that’s fun. (In our house, it would be ice cream!)
Try a variety of books with your kids – Don’t assume what one likes will be what the next one does. My daughter has loved fiction her whole life. My son wants non-fiction, big print, and lots of pictures.
Role model your own reading. It’s hard to take the break sometimes, but if they don’t see you reading for pleasure, they have nothing to emulate. You can relax with a novel, magazines, or even blogs (as long as your kids understand you’re reading and not playing computer solitaire.)
Make a goal chart. After a certain number of pages or books read, plan to do something fun as a family.
Create your own family reading time. Maybe right before bed works for you. Otherwise, try carving a special time weekly. Make hot cocoa or popcorn, and turn off all the electronics.
How do you encourage your kids to read?
Thanks for joining in to build assets in your kids! I look forward to seeing you again next month for Positively Speaking.
Kelly Curtis is a Wisconsin school counselor and author of Empowering Youth: How to Encourage Young Leaders to Do Great Things. To read more about Kelly, please visit her Weblog, Pass the Torch or follow her on Twitter.