Thomas Jefferson once said, “I cannot live without books.” Inspired by our former president, we reached out to Gwen Glazer, a librarian with the New York Public Library, about the benefits of reading. Here’s are Glazer’s suggestions about how to get your kids excited about books.
Reward Them With Books
“Ten out of ten librarians agree: reading is great for kids!” says Glazer. “Reading helps with everything from building a bigger vocabulary to improving concentration to becoming a better citizen of the world.” It’s not just for older children either: “Reading to babies has huge benefits for their language development and other skills as well,” she adds.
Still, children can use a little extra incentive to motivate reading. “Let kids stay up half an hour later to read,” says Glazer. “Or use books as rewards. These things show that books are a treat.”
Let Your Child Pick What They Read
What kids read is less important than the fun factor. “Allow your kids to read books they like,” says Glazer. “As kids, many of us devoured books that can’t be considered high literature. But they built a lifelong love of reading in many of us. And if you develop that enthusiasm as a child, you’ll have plenty of time for the classics later.”
Yes, even technology can help kids get excited about books. “There are apps with visual components to make reading come alive,” says Glazer. “Or e-readers that allow you to interact with a story in a different way.”
Think Outside The Box
If a child is struggling, there are other ways to make reading more enjoyable, like reading along with an audiobook. “Audiobooks are a wonderful way to connect with a book,” says Glazer. “Many children love hearing stories read out loud.”
And don’t dismiss other forms of literature. “Books based on TV shows, graphic novels and comic books are all great,” says Glazer. “Or a series with a million books. Anything they’re excited about reading is wonderful.”
Show, Don’t Tell
Children model what they see at home. “If your kids see you relaxing with a book, they’re much more likely to do it themselves,” says Glazer. Consider setting aside time as a family every week for casual reading, collectively or individually, and have everyone discuss what they’ve read afterwards.
Visit Your Local Library
Full of free books, friendly librarians and fun activities and programs, your local library makes reading a community activity. So stop by and take advantage of its benefits today! Many even offer free e-books online, which can be especially great for busy parents who find it hard to make time for a library run every week.
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Originally published August 2015.