Technology has taken over, so that now many children only read on screen. Stories are watched as films or animation on a tablet or TV and there’s a real danger that they will miss out on the experience of curling up on the sofa with a really good book.
We’re not suggesting that this has to be a real book with actual pages you turn (although there is definitely something special about the tactile experience of having a book in your hands), but simply the joy of reading.
Whether your kids read a Kindle or an actual paper book doesn’t matter. What’s important is that they develop a love of a well-written story.
Of course, you have probably read them stories at bedtime when they were small. But have you encouraged them to continue to enjoy a good story once their reading skills have developed?
If you’re not a ‘reader’ yourself, it may be something that you haven’t considered yet. With the internet delivering everything with a few clicks, many of today’s children have never visited the library – and wouldn’t know how to use it if they did.
So whether it’s something simple to get them started, like the Dr Seuss books or more modern stories by David Walliams, Jaqueline Wilson or even good old-fashioned Enid Blyton, do encourage your children to experience the joy of reading stories.
How do you get them started?
- Encourage them to read before they go to sleep, preferably either using a real book or a reader that has a matt screen that’s not backlit. The blue light emitted by tablets, laptops and mobile phones is a great way to ensure that they don’t get a good night’s sleep.
- Take them to visit the library and explain how it works – explore the shelves of fiction for their age group. Knowing the book has to be returned is a good way to get them to start reading the new story and get it finished before its due date.
- For teens, encourage them to read fiction as well as books that will help them with their personal development. It’s never too soon to understand the power of things like goal setting and positive attitude.
- Have one evening a week when all screens are banned and have a family read-in. Even if you choose to read a self-help or business book yourself, or to try short stories if you don’t want to read a longer book, set them an example.
- Find out about book clubs where everyone reads the same book and then meets once a month to discuss it. Perhaps suggest they start one of these with their friends, so they are discussing books that they have a common interest in.
- Have a family competition to read the top 100 books everyone should read or the top 100 childrens books by age group. You might be surprised at some of them – and discover or rediscover some firm favourites.
- Talk about the books you are reading, have read or would like to read. Make reading something that is part of everyday life.
Why bother? Because you will be giving your child a gift that will stay with them for the rest of their life (and you will always be able to find a great gift as they get older).
So which book will you buy for your child this Christmas?