Help children find fun in reading
I recently returned to my alma mater and while touring the campus went back to the library, a site where I had spent many hours as a student. With me was my teenage son who, I was gratified to find, was not only willing, but was enthusiastic about wandering through the stacks of books and talking to the librarian about the function of this cornerstone of the university.
Not long after that I heard on the radio that officers of a branch of our armed forces were being encouraged to read two books per year as part of their personal development. Two books a year seems less than a lofty goal to me, and I began thinking about what it takes to get people to enjoy reading.
I clearly remember the point in my life where the love of reading struck me. I had a fourth-grade teacher who helped me view a good story as a great personal adventure. By teaching me to feel a part of the story, identify with the characters and see in my mind’s eye the unraveling of the plot, she had me waiting to open the cover and begin to read, read, read.
The love of reading and finding books is and was a part of our family vacations. We have many happy memories of spending time together in the libraries of small towns we have visited where a temporary card was issued. The Lake Air Branch of the Waco McLennan County Library can attest to the number of books my family has checked out during the years.
I also read in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology a study that showed that self-help books are helpful to individuals searching for psychological answers. Books based on well-established programs were often found to be helpful to those suffering from mild depression, anxiety or other psychological problems. Not surprising, the study found that the individuals benefiting the most were those who enjoyed reading and had some level of proficiency in their reading skills.
The time to acquire a love for reading is in the early years. Following are methods that should help children establish an interest:
• Read aloud to your children. Stop to discuss interesting and important passages to stimulate your child’s imagination and involvement in the story. I remember my mother and father taking turns reading Swiss Family Robinson to me as a child. My first tree house resulted from that adventure.
• Set an example for your children by reading yourself.
• Take your children to the library and to bookstores. Give them an opportunity to browse through the children’s sections.
• Set aside time for your child to read.
• Talk to your children about the books they are reading. Take the time to explore their feelings and share their enthusiasm.
• Show children that reading is a wonderful hobby, something to be enjoyed rather than something they have to do.
• Consider incentives to help your child establish the desire to read.
• Give your child latitude in choosing reading materials. They may want adventure stories, others may want to read about sports figures.
• Try to establish a love for reading that will help them see books as life-long tools and friends in adulthood.
Harold H. LeCrone, Jr., Ph.D. Copyright 1989