Look, I don’t brag a lot about my parenting skills. I’m a decent mom; the kids don’t miss meals, the do decent in school, and no one started any fires this week.
But there is one thing I did with my kids that I am really proud of. My kids love reading.
My older kid has had a favorite author almost since birth. First it was Eric Carl, then she moved on to Shel Silverstein. Now she’s discovering fantasy Terry Brooks and Pratchett. She’s read all the Harry Potter books and all the Series of Unfortunate Events. Her sister is really into James Patterson right now. (Yes, he does write kids books)
I know this is something parents struggle with,and I totally understand it. Kids are stubborn little pains- individual, independant and strong willed. Here’s what we do to raise our next generation of readers.
(Click here to learn how I get my kids to love writing, too)
Screw reward systems
When did this start being a thing we bribe kids to do? I mean, no trip to the doctor is complete for my family without some froyo after, but that’s for me as much as anyone else.
But reading? You’re going to spend an hour reading a story about dragons, and you think you get rewarded for that. Uh, no. I pay money for the privilege you have there, don’t think I’ll pat you on the head over it.
Parental bitching aside, assigning a reward to reading attaches a feeling of a chore to it. What you’re saying to your kid is, “l know I’m telling you that this is fun, but even I don’t really buy that, so let me make it up to you.” Stop it.
Let technology win this round
Because it already has. I love my books, but I don’t know that I’ll ever buy another physical one. It’s so much more convenient to have e books. I even have picture books on my tablet! (You want to talk about a mommy save?)
Look, kids love technology. Hell, I love technology. This gives me the opportunity to have whole series right in my hands. I can get books for the girls in a second, before they get distracted by something else. I keep some short story collections on this thing for group reading in long lines. Also, my kids readers have a dictionary feature! So if they don’t know a word they can tap it and bam, there it is.
E readers also make it easier to follow my next bit of advice.
Model the behavior
I could say this about every other parenting thing we struggle with too. When my kid loses her temper and swears at her video game, I don’t question why, I know.
But when my my kids lost their shit when we found out there would be a new Harry Potter book, I also didn’t question why. They saw me do it. Just like when I insisted we had to stop on the way to the museum and buy Go Set A Watchman, then carried it around with me the whole time we were there.
I make time to read every day. They know that I’m reading, too, not just scrolling Pintrest. They see, and they have always seen, the joy I get from books.
Let them read comics
Bone, Calvin and Hobbs, Wonderland, Gunnerkrigg Court. My kids read all of these things, and they adore them. They read Captain Underpants, too, even though I wasn’t a fan.
They read other things, of course. Tolkin and Pierce and all the other authors I’ve already mentioned. But they enjoy comics, they have fun reading them. Trust me, if they see reading as fun, they’ll get to the deeper works someday. If they don’t, well, there’s some really great shows on tv these days. We’re binge watching Grimm right now.
And, if all else fails, read them this quote by John Waters;
“If you go to someone’s house, and they don’t have books, don’t fuck them.”