10 May 2010 09:30 AM

Children's Book Week

by rbavaria

This week, May 10-16, is Children’s Book Week, an ideal time to encourage our children of all ages to read.  I’ve written about this topic on numerous occasions – read suggestions, thoughts, tips, and ideas about children’s reading by clicking on “Archive” above.  For today, though, here’s a summary of some ways we adults can encourage our kids to read and thereby give them the lifelong gift of this fundamental skill.   It may be the most important and long-lasting gift you’ll ever give them – it’ll never wear out, never become outdated, provide fun and usefulness forever, and (let’s face it) give you some peace and quiet every once in a while!


I’ve collected these ideas through my own experience, from parents, from teachers, and from my own students, who aren’t shy about expressing their opinions.  (“This book is boring!  When can we read something better?”)

  1. Give lots of positive reinforcement, support, and encouragement for reading.  Kids want to please us.  We need to let them know when we’re pleased.

  2. Have family reading routines where youdrop everything and read”  together.  This shows kids that reading trumps everything else for this special night.  You have the final say, of course, but any kind of reading should be okay.

  3. Have plenty of books, magazines, newspapers around the house.  This shows that reading is important to your family not just for one night but always.

  4. Talk about books.  Tell your kids about your favorite books when you were their age.  Ask about theirs.  Assume that they read and have favorites, and they will.

  5. Discuss the books they’ve read on their own and for school.  Talk about the themes (friendship, standing up for your beliefs, perseverance, etc.) in the books and how the themes relate to your lives.

  6. Read aloud.  Read to them.  Let them read to you.  There are no age limits to this enjoyable activity.  (Why do you think millions of adults love audio books?  I read to my high school students, they asked for more, and never had a complaint.  A few told me secretly that it was the only way they’d get through a book.)

  7. Read online, too.  There are plenty of excellent reading sites online, especially for specialized interests.  When they’re online, monitor their time and site visits, of course, just as you do with their other reading.  Incidentally, ebooks like Kindle, Nook, and iPad count.  Reading’s reading.

  8. Encourage writing.  Language arts – reading, writing, speaking, and listening – come in a package.  One supports the other.  When your kids read, encourage them to write about their books.  They can write a short “review” for your family’s webpage, for the annual Christmas letter, in an email or letter to Grandma.

  9. Keep a Book Journal. Either as a family or individually, keep track of the books you’re reading.  Make a list to hang in the child’s room, along with new vocabulary words she’s learned.  Some parents help their kids make a “book chain” out of construction paper, with each link in the chain bearing the title of a book.

  10. Make space for a personal library in your child’s room.  He can keep his own books, library books, school books, or gift books here.  Express pride and pleasure as the library grows.  To increase your library, visit www.BN.com/BookAdventure to receive a special discount from Barnes&Noble.com!

  11. Encourage hobbies.  When kids have interests outside of the classroom, they discover countless topics they want to read and learn more about.

  12. Read newspapers together.  Newspapers, in print or online, have lots of interesting topics daily – sports, comics, entertainment, local and world news, personalities, cars, and fashion, for instance.

  13. Spend time with “fun books.”  It’s good to “stretch” our minds and read challenging books once in a while, but not all reading has to be heavy.  Set aside special family fun reading nights and enjoy joke books, riddle books, tongue twister books, game books, and books with silly stories that children love.

  14. Find a favorite author and illustrator whose books your family can follow.  Every reader has a favorite author, right?  Write “fan” letters and enjoy the responses.  For families with students in grades K- 8, visit www.BookAdventure.com.  Book Adventure is a free reading motivational Web site where parents and teachers can help children choose books from more than 7,500 titles, take short comprehension quizzes and redeem accumulated points for small prizes.  Children are rewarded for reading their favorite authors’ books!

  15. Give books as gifts.  Books are wonderful gifts.  You don’t have to worry about “size” or trendiness.  You’ll contribute to a personal library.  And you’ll know you’re encouraging a special and valuable skill.

  16. “Extend” reading.  If your child loved that book about skyscrapers, take a field trip downtown to look at your city’s tall buildings.  If he was carried away with that book about dinosaurs, go to the natural history museum.  (Museums have great websites with kids’ pages.  Take a virtual field trip.)

  17. Play games that encourage reading, spelling, vocabulary development, speaking, and listening.

  18. Consider a “book allowance.”  A little extra now and then to be spent on books is a wise investment.

  19. Support the efforts of creative, energetic, and supportive teachers.  My god-son, Justin Pugh, to take a perfectly random example, a fourth-grade teacher here in the Baltimore suburbs, is one of the most gifted teachers I’ve ever known.  (Yes, I’m biased, but I know good teaching when I see it.)  He brings his guitar to class, writes songs about reading, motivates kids with “rock concerts” about reading, and entertains at local children’s book shops to support, encourage, and nurture reading in his classroom and community.  Kids love him and will do anything to please him.  There are lots of teachers like Mr. Pugh.  Support them.  They’re local treasures.

  20. Be a reading role model.  Show your kids that you read when you want information, when you want to learn how to do something, or when you just want a pleasurable experience.  Praise them when they do the same.HHH




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