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*** Monthly Feature Column ***
Building Assets in your Kids
by Kelly Curtis, M.S., author of Empowering Youth: How to Encourage Young Leaders to Do Great Things.
Summer is a great time to explore the library and find new reading materials your kids haven’t discovered before.
Search Institute has identified Reading for Pleasure as one of the 40 Developmental Assets. Research shows these are characteristics of healthy, caring, resilient kids. The more assets youth have, the more likely they’ll resist risky behaviors in the future.
For some children, books are a portal to a new world of adventure — they can’t imagine a life without them. For others, though, they haven’t yet “caught the bug” and it becomes a struggle to get them to read anything. There are many ways to engage young readers into the world of books.
WAYS TO GET YOUR KIDS READING
Read to your kids when they’re young – and continue reading aloud even when they’re able to read to themselves. If they discover a love for books early on, they’ll probably want to continue feeding their imaginations.
Tell stories to your children – The stories can be imaginary, “Once upon a time” stories, or an oral history of your family. Dr. Alice Wilder, a founder of Think It Ink It Publishing, suggests encourage your children to tell or write stories as well – it encourages creativity and often makes them look for more stories, as told in books.
Carve out established reading time– whether silent or aloud can create a habit that kids will want to maintain. It only needs to be a few minutes at a time, and can be whenever it works for your family — before bed, in the car, or on the deck. Make it fun!
Help your kids choose the right books and keep an open mind– keep looking until you find the right fit. Boys often enjoy learning facts before they find out they like the mysteries too. Remember non-fiction, in the form of how-to, full-color almanacs, and magazines. Also, while some parents and teachers frown on book series with poor-grammar dialogue or mischievous characters, I know many kids who discovered their love for reading with Junie B. Jones — one of the the naughtiest, most grammatically-incorrect first-graders I know.
Be a reader yourself – Whether you most enjoy reading Woman’s Day, Grisham novels, or Weblogs, make it clear to your kids that you read often and enjoy it a lot. Like everything else you do, your kids will likely want to follow in your footsteps. Here’s my summer book list, if you’re looking for ideas.
Invest in reading for pleasure! It will pay dividends for decades!
Please share the books your kids have enjoyed the most. Please include their ages as well.
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.
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