Getting Kids Interested in Reading

During my time in the bookstore I was often approached by well-meaning adults looking to find that book.  The one book that would bestow upon their children the love of reading, forever granting them the most successful of lives.  Don’t get me wrong, I do feel that there is a book for every person and no one really hates to read.  I know there are people who may not feel curling up with a  book is not a good time, or they would not make it their first choice of something to do, but I bet that there is still at least one book that sparked their interest.

I decided to post today about some ways parents, or other well-meaning adults, can help get their kids invested early in the written word.

First, bring the child with you:

So many people do not bring the child with them when they are book shopping.  I can certainly understand if the book purchase is meant as a gift, but try to find some time to bring your child to the book store in advance to start building a TBR (to be read) list.  This can be a lot of fun and a great way to bond with your little reader.  The first time I had Julia with me in the book store I was surprised by some of the books she gravitated towards.  It certainly wasn’t the books I thought she would go to (though some of them did make the list) and it provided me a glimpse into her that I normally don’t get to see.  Suddenly, I was hearing stories about what people in school were talking about when it came to these books.  I found out she has an interest in astrology and non-fiction, which I didn’t know.  We were able to build a TBR list for her, which helped me when I wanted to get her a book or someone in the family was looking to pick something up for her.

If you do bring your child in for an in store purchase and need to ask for some recommendations, let the child do the speaking.  Remember, this is a book that ultimately they will be reading.  They have to want to read the book, so let them answer the questions by your local bookseller.  I have been in a few situations where the parent would primarily doing the talking and I would gently steer the conversation to the child.  I would engage them into the conversation and ask them the questions vs asking the parents.  I am a parent and I know how hard it can be to take a backseat when you are used to answering all the questions.  I don’t even think it is intentionally done; parents and adults are just used to doing it.  I have seen a young face light up when I am able to hand them something pertaining to their interests.  I have had parents bring their child into the store and tell me how they hoped I was there because I had helped their kid the last time and they loved the book so they wanted to talk to me again.  I promise, all I did was listen.

Second, understand things change:

Don’t disregard a book because of its format.  I see a lot of dislike from people for graphic novels.  Graphic novels are still books, and just as important as books filled with just words.  Some children may make the leap to being a lifelong reader by falling in love with the graphic novel and that is okay!  It is still reading, it is still a story that requires imagination, and it is very, very valid.  Some of my favorite stories that I read in the last year were graphic novels in the children’s department.  There are so many more options now in this genre, so if your child wants to read those, embrace it!  This may not be something you are familiar with, but try it out!  You may be surprised.

Third, be the change you want to see:

Times are so different now.  There is so much technology available that wasn’t around when I was growing up.  It is so easy to turn on one of the hundreds of channels, or pop online for a “few minutes”, or plug into a video game.  Spend some time reading, and let your child see you reading.  Children do look to us as role models and while they may deny it (as well as there is no guarantee that they will turn out to be an avid reader just because you are), if they see you making time to read, chances are better they will follow suit.  It is hard to tell children that reading is important and they have to read each day if they never see us reading.  Talk about books, about what you are reading, what you liked about it, what you are excited to read next.  Encourage them to talk to you about what they are reading.  Ask them questions about the themes of the book, what they relate to.  It took some time but once I got Julia talking, she will now offer up information before I ask the questions.  My nephew will always tell me where he is in the book he is reading (and the last time I saw him he told me when the next book in a series that he is reading is coming out.  I almost cried I was so happy).

I really do feel I was given a gift by being able to work in the Children’s and Teen departments when I did.  It really helped rekindle my love of reading even more and such a deeper appreciation for literature geared towards younger people.  I truly felt that in some cases I was really helping to shape a love for reading in the young people I worked with.  Do you have any tips on how to engage the younger crowd into the reading life?  If so, please let me know!  I would love to have some additional tools for the holiday season.  Thank you for reading and see you next time where I am going to jump off the YA/Kid cart for a moment to review “The Handmaid’s Tale”.

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